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Dead Babies and Seaside Towns

A compelling memoir of stillbirth, surrogacy and seaside towns by Alice Jolly

This book is published, but you can still pledge for rewards!

Dead Babies and Seaside Towns cover

The Synopsis

How far would you go in order to have a baby? Is surrogacy morally acceptable? If you need a surrogate and an egg donor how do you find them? Can you bring a surrogate baby from America into the UK legally?

Ten years ago I had never considered any of these questions – but when our second child was stillborn and all our attempts to have another baby were failing, we started to consider every possible option, no matter how unorthodox.

My memoir – Dead Babies and Seaside Towns – is the story of that period of our lives and of our relationship with two extraordinary American women who offered to make the impossible possible.

It is a book about motherhood, grief, infertility, alternative ways to create a family - and my odd love affair with Britain’s crumbling seaside towns. It is a sad book but I hope it is also beautiful and funny.

The events which it recounts are, of course, personal but I firmly believe that there is a real sense in which our story is every family’s story. The loss of a baby, infertility, miscarriages, alternative families – these issues are all around us, every day, even if many keep them hidden.

And that is partly why I’ve written this book. Because stillbirths and surrogacy are amongst the last great taboos of family life and I want them to be discussed more openly.

In particular, there is no book anywhere that tells the nuts and bolts story of a surrogate pregnancy. Instead people rely on information from the tabloids, much of which is wrong. By telling my story honestly, I want to lay the facts on the table and give you – the reader – the opportunity to form your own view.

I am also writing this memoir because I want to raise money for SANDS (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity)* – an important and often neglected charity. 17 babies are stillborn in the UK every day – a much higher figure than in many other comparable countries. If we don’t talk about stillbirths – however painful that may be – then nothing will change.

I hope very much that you will support this book. If you do, then you will be helping SANDS to reduce the number of stillbirths and you will receive a beautiful copy of a good book.

*Once the initial subscription has been raised then my share of the profits (50% of every book sold) will go to SANDS. In addition to a list of subscribers, this book will also contain a Memorial list. If you would like to include the name and date(s) of someone you have lost we will contact subscribers for details before the book goes to press.

The Excerpt

It began in a house in North London - one of those toppling, red brick terraced houses, stacked up tight against each other in the streets above Gospel Oak. We were staying with friends for the weekend and that morning we walked to a playground on the edge of Hampstead Heath. My husband, Stephen, pushed our son, two-year-old Thomas, on swings and stood beside metal-runged ladders, guiding wavering, wellington-booted feet.

It was warm for March and yet I sat on a bench shivering in two jumpers, a coat, scarves, boots and gloves. I was nearly three months pregnant with our second child. My stomach rolled and heaved, my lips were dry, my mouth tasted sour and even the wind on my face felt like an assault. I longed for time to sweep me on, past twelve weeks of pregnancy, as I knew that then the sand-paper-rawness and nagging sickness might end.

After we came back from the Heath, our friends Martin and Sarah cooked us a proper Sunday lunch – lamb, roast potatoes, buttery cabbage - which we ate amidst the half finished building work in their kitchen. I pushed down two plates despite the nausea. A taxi had been called to take us to the Eurostar at Waterloo station. From there we would travel back to our home in Brussels.


The Reviews

This book has 1 review with an average rating of 5 stars.

A searingly honest and forensic analysis of grief and the impact of its all-consuming presence on daily life and relationships. The haunting, obsessive desire for an elusive baby is humbling and revealing to those if us who have been fortunate . Alice is hard on those who do not understand or say the... (read more)

The Author

Alice Jolly is a novelist, playwright and teacher of creative writing. Her two novels (What The Eye Doesn’t See and If Only You Knew) are both published by Simon and Schuster. She is completing a third novel. Her articles have been published in the Guardian, the Mail on Sunday and the Independent and she has broadcast on Radio 4. Four of her plays have been professionally produced by The Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham. Two of these plays were funded by The Arts Council. Her monologues have been performed in London and provincial theatres and she has recently been commissioned by Paines Plough (‘The National Theatre of New Writing’). She teaches for The Arvon Foundation and on the Oxford University Master’s Degree in Creative Writing. She has lived in Warsaw and in Brussels. She has three children - a son who is twelve, a daughter who was stillborn and a daughter who was born to a surrogate mother in the United States. Her home is now in Stroud in Gloucestershire and she is married to Stephen Kinsella.

The Rewards

This book is now published. You can still pledge, but you won't get listed as a supporter in the back.


Ebook edition (DRM free, available in three major formats)


1st edition hardback plus ebook edition.

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Signed, 1st edition hardback plus ebook edition.

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All the above + 2 places at a lunch with Alice (10 pledges only)

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Signed & personally dedicated 1st edition plus ebook edition. Your chance to make the book happen and donate a significant amount to SANDS – the stillbirth & neonatal charity. You choose the amount. (This link will take you to discuss this directly with us via email)

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Bespoke Level
3 signed copies of the hardback and the ebook edition.
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  • Format: Signed hardback
  • ISBN: 978-1-78352-106-7
  • Published: 06/2015
  • Format: hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-78352-106-7