If you learn nothing else about Brockes from this book, you will learn that she does not like having decisions taken out of her hands. I’m not sure what she would be called in her native Great Britain, but here in the United States we might call her a control freak—a personality quirk that just adds to the pleasure of this splendid and fascinating book ... She is cool, methodical and, at times, insanely funny, with a great eye for the ironies and amusements of life ... And in the end, there is no doubt that her decision—at least for us readers—was an excellent one indeed.
Brockes...is so smart and tartly charming (think Fleabag meets Helen Fielding) that it doesn’t much matter that you sense an obligation to make a word count as she vacillates about some aspects of her story, particularly her relationship with her sort-of-partner, L ... (Could someone please make a TV show about these women?) ... Brockes creates dramatic tension by debating the virtues of using known sperm donors as opposed to strangers, and whether to rely on the British health care system—socialized but slow—or her adopted country’s for assisted reproduction ... Brockes gets at the undeniable but typically unspoken competitiveness among women when it comes to fertility ... An Excellent Choice isn’t purely a story about love ... [an account] from the front lines of reproduction, a place where there is no such thing as absolute fairness.
As a Brit, Brockes has great insights into the American health-care system, from fertility medicine to childbirth to postnatal care. Her narrative also incorporates her unconventional relationship, which is refreshing on many levels—she and her partner live apart, in separate apartments in the same building ... Informative, funny, and candid reading for anyone considering an unconventional approach to parenting.
Brockes’s book is the more straightforward and satisfying of the two, perhaps because it has a more conventional narrative momentum, but largely because it is shot through with a dry humour and self-awareness ... Brockes plays at once the wry observer of the slick American fertility industry, with all its attendant comedy, and the naive rube negotiating a world that proves more complicated than she ever expected ... important contributions to the arguments that continue to rage around motherhood and feminism.
We all love to read of a woman transplanted to a glamorous foreign city and having to work out the alien lingo, weird sandwich fillings and mad opening hours before realizing that things aren’t so different after all ... It would be nice to say that running through all this is the charming love story between her and her soulmate, 'L,' colored in with intimacy and thrills and intellectually enlivened by the big philosophical questions around women having babies without men, and new ways of women being alone together. Like much of this understated book, however, the romance and ideas are played down. Way down. Brockes, an experienced investigative journalist, is very much of the 'what, when, where' school of storytelling, with the 'why and how' left to fend for themselves ... there’s an emotional chasm at the heart of this informative book ... I longed for that sort of coarse cry here, in this strangely depressed book about life written with the deathly calm of an expert rather than one living it in the raw.
Her quirky, neurotic intensity pairs well with the brisk pace she has crafted after so many years writing to deadlines, and she holds little back. The book speaks to a growing contingent of would-be parents who reach their 30s and 40s and find they have the means and motivation to have kids outside of a conventional domestic partnership, embracing their chosen single parenthood as a form of empowerment. It seems as if almost everyone bearing a child is writing a book about it, but Brockes is too original a personality to fall in quietly with the rest. A disarming and casually hilarious take on the opposite of co-parenting.