Red Dog Books

The Divided Heart: Art and Motherhood

by Rachel Power

The Divided Heart: Art and Motherhood by Rachel Power

A divided heart; a split self; the sense that to succeed at one means to fail at the other.

Do women still confront the attitude that a dedicated artist will avoid having children for the sake of her career? In The Divided Heart, Australia’s most respected artists, writers and actors speak frankly about the wrench between motherhood and their artistic life.

Rachel Power navigates through the divided heart of the artists to reveal the shocking, funny and moving truth of the overwhelming demands of motherhood and the undiminished passion for their work.

This book will resonate with anyone who has ever wondered, ‘Who will I be when this baby is born?’


Praise for The Divided Heart...

“A book that changed my life. I don’t get a lot of time to read which is why when I do, it better be worth it. … Basically, the book is a collection of interviews with ‘artists’, a term Rachel uses to describe women who work in creative fields. There are famous women (Rachel Griffiths, Nikki Gemmell, Jocelyn Moorhouse, Clare Bowditch) and women you’ve never heard of. But they’re all so wonderfully honest about the challenges and rewards of combining motherhood with creativity.”
Mia Freedman,

“Rachel Power’s new book on art and motherhood is that rare and wonderful thing: a work that reveals careful research and a keen intellect, but is also accessible, passionate and deeply personal. There are many books about motherhood on the market at present, as well as a burgeoning public conversation about the conflicts Australian women face when they have children. However, The Divided Heart carves out its own special space within this genre. This is partly because it has been written and compiled by a gifted writer, who brings unusual insight and intelligence to the subject.”
Rachel Cunnean, The Canberra Times

“…this is not a book to devour in one sitting but one to dip into every so often when the little darlings are quiet, inspiration has fled and you crave moral support from a kindred spirit.”
Julie Szego, The Age

“The interviews explore the personal clash between two great passions, social expectations for both mothers and artists, and the gender imbalance implicit in them... the interviews are absorbing and the issues raised interesting. It has the potential to appeal both to mothers and to artists, as well as to educated readers interested in the particular artists themselves.”
Jarrah Moore, Bookseller+Publisher, June 2008

“Is there anything more to say on this subject? Yes, and plenty: deeply moving, affirming, and challenging, these stories prove that anyone who thinks the battle is over is wrong. This is the latest report from the front line: heart-breaking and wonderful, in equal parts.”
Susan Johnson, author

“There is such intelligence, insight and honesty in this book, which makes me remember why I love being in the company of women. Perversely perhaps, this book made me yearn to go back and do it all again”
Hannie Rayson, playwright

“Refreshingly, these are stories of real parenthood—not excerpts from scripts for an election campaign or margarine ad. They portray it as a very personal and unpredictable achievement that can give rise to considerable ambivalence. ...this is a book for everyone who laments the daily juggling act ... and does it all anyway.”
Damon Young, The Big Issue

“Rachel Power explores the painful dichotomy that is inherent in being both a mother and an artist. … Rachel Power is a beautiful writer, and her prose is brilliant and honest. … Fortunately, the book rings with optimism without glossing over the author’s premise: being an artist and a mother is inherently painful, but you CAN turn the experience into something beautiful and successful, if you try hard enough — and surrender to the rocky landscape. … Without question, The Divided Heart is an important resource in our discussion and contemplation of motherhood and art.”
Miranda, Creative Construction: Art & Life blog

“…like it was written just for me at exactly the time I needed to read it. It was affirming and revelatory and incredibly inspiring in a way that surprised me.”
Claire Thomas, author of Fugitive Blue

“There is nothing lightweight about this book. By page two of the introduction, I am a woman (and a mother) dangerously close to tears as I read and re-read the words that have seemingly been stripped from my soul and placed on these pages by some other woman and mother. I’ve never before encountered anyone brave enough to verbalise or write about childbirth and motherhood in this way.”
Tannia, Downunder Discourse blog

“It has been such a long time since I have been so utterly, almost narcissistically gripped by a book. ... The quest—or struggle—to create art and look after children suddenly seemed like a totally legitimate area of contemplation and discussion.”
Mindy Sotiri, singer-songwriter

“Power shows how complicated these lives are, and how various. … Beautifully told, beautifully set, they deserve to be out in the world—we’re better for them—and they really seem enough to fly by.”
Kerry Clare, Pickle Me This blog

Purchase this book

Ebook available through:
Google Play Amazon's Kindle Store

Rachel Power is a freelance writer and editor, and mother of two. Her previous book is Alison Rehfisch: A Life for Art (The Beagle Press, 2002), the biography of an Australian modernist painter.

Rachel has also worked as a court illustrator for television news, taught life-drawing, designed album covers, and plays the piano when everyone else is asleep.