Publication Date
Publication Status
Out of print
Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
Trim Size
198 x 129mm

The Birth Machine


Tucked up on the ward and secure in the latest technology, Zelda is about to give birth to her baby. But things don’t go to plan, and as her labour progresses and the drugs take over, Zelda enters a surreal world. Here, past and present become confused and blend with fairytale and myth. Old secrets surface and finally give birth to disturbing revelations in the present.

Originally published in the eighties, The Birth Machine was seized on by readers as giving voice to a female experience absent from fiction until then and quickly became a classic text. Out of print for some years, The Birth Machine is now reissued in a revised version. It is still relevant today to modern Obstetrics and Medicine, however it is more than that: it is also a gripping story of buried secrets and a long-ago murder, and of present-day betrayals. Above all, it is a powerful novel about the ways we can wield control through logic and language, and about the battle over who owns the right to knowledge and to tell the stories of who we are. The book was dramatised for Radio 4 and starred Barbara Marten as Zelda.


Praise for this Book

‘A gripping story, a pithy book.’ —Katy Campbell

‘An increasingly powerful narrative … its presentation of the world of childhood contrasts nicely with sharp satire.’ —Laura Marcus

‘In many ways this novel is the birth myth of our age’ —Janet Madden Simpson

‘Elizabeth Baines has a wry humour and satirical edge’ —Martin Nicholls

‘This powerful book leaves you with a sense of disquiet, anger and frustration … that what you have just read is an everyday story about an everyday event. As such it is very clever.’ —Jessica Corner

Reviews of this Book

‘The first well-crafted and surreal novel from a talented new writer.’ —Literary Review

‘An odd novel, and very compelling.’ —Head and Hands