WINTER'S CHILD by Dea Trier Morch; translated from the Danish by Joan Tate; illustrations by the author (University of Nebraska: $18.95). Fourteen women hospitalized during one month in the "problem pregnancy" ward of a Danish maternity hospital tell their stories in this novel, first published in Denmark 10 years ago. The principal storyteller is Marie Hansen, an unmarried kindergarten teacher, more intellectual than her companions, whose ruminations connect the engrossing details of life and death on the ward with events in the outside world of 1975, International Women's Year.
In the physically intimate environment of the maternity ward, the women's shared experiences override the differences in their backgrounds and create a strong bond among them. This solidarity is interrupted by their visitors, whose clothing and behavior predict the separate routes the ward mates will travel after discharge.
Through explanations by midwives, nurses and doctors, the novel propounds obstetrical technicalities in some detail. Its foreword by Verne Moberg relates the book to other feminist writings. The author's illustrations graphically depict ward scenes, labor and delivery, newborns in incubators (the fragile winter's children of the title), with a final, tender sketch of a sleeping baby held in embracing arms. Her book suffers slightly from uneven translation and abrupt transitions between points of view, but the reader will gain valuable insight into the experience of childbirth and the individual and universal feelings of the women who share its wonder.