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  • Published: 6 June 2019
  • ISBN: 9781473561687
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 288

Mother Ship

A dramatic, moving and life-affirming memoir about motherhood, the NHS and what it means to care

'Heart-wrenching, heart-warming and heartfelt' Adam Kay, author of This is Going to Hurt
After her twin girls are born early, Francesca Segal finds herself keeping vigil by their side in hospital, all romantic expectations of new parenthood obliterated. Her gripping diary of those months combines the tenderness of a love poem with the compulsive pace of a thriller. As each day brings a fresh challenge for her and her babies, Francesca makes a temporary life among a band of mothers who are vivid, fearless and inspiring, taking care not only of their children but of one another.

'A beautiful memoir: wise, moving and profoundly humane' Elizabeth Day, author of How to Fail

  • Published: 6 June 2019
  • ISBN: 9781473561687
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 288

About the author

Francesca Segal

Francesca Segal is an award-winning writer and journalist. Her first novel, The Innocents, won the 2012 Costa First Novel Award, the 2012 National Jewish Book Award for Fiction, the 2013 Sami Rohr Prize, and a Betty Trask Award. Her most recent novel, The Awkward Age (‘smart, soulful and compelling’, Nick Hornby) was published in 2017.

Also by Francesca Segal

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Praise for Mother Ship

A heart-wrenching insight into what must have been such a fragile, overwhelming and terrifying time - yet there’s humour in there too. Beautiful

Giovanna Fletcher

[Segal] writes with delicate eloquence, combining passion and comic understatement so deftly that this feels the only way the book could have been written… I don’t think I’ve turned the pages so urgently in a book about motherhood before

Lara Feigal, Guardian

A beautiful memoir: wise, moving and profoundly humane. Segal writes with such exquisite clarity that each word is a gift, each sentence a votive offering. Mother Ship moved me to tears, but it also taught me the unassailable power of decency and kindness when life is at its most fragile and vulnerable. A book that left me changed for having read it

Elizabeth Day

As gripping as a thriller and as moving as a love story

Amanda Craig, Spectator

A compelling and emotionally taut exploration of what it means to be a parent in unexpected and challenging circumstances... The pages of Mother Ship are filled with love, anguish, despair and hope in the face of adversity. As a memoir, it is both insightful and moving; as a diary of 56 days in neonatal care, it is an exquisitely written paean to motherhood

Hannah Beckerman, Observer

I was bowled over by the beauty and terror of Mother Ship. I’m in awe of Francesca Segal’s honesty and courage, never mind her sublime, subtle writing. This is a vital, necessary book, not just about motherhood but about survival, care and the sustaining power of women in adversity

Olivia Laing

This is a marvellous humbling book about the fear and joy of giving birth to incredibly tiny premature twins. It's so tender, so moving, so blackly comic, and so involving your own heart beats fast as you read on.

Dame Jacqueline Wilson

[A] radiant memoir… Segal writes beautifully… Mother Ship stands out most of all for its refreshing absence of solipsism… Instead, she has written a paean to the depthless kindness of other people: the solidarity of fellow mothers who sustain each other with pastries and sound advice; the peerless machinery of the NHS, with its unsung army of workers… Segal’s writing…serves as its own restorative act of love

Claire Allfree, Daily Telegraph

Francesca Segal is an award-winning writer and Mother Ship is a masterclass in style. A beautiful, lyrical memoir that navigates the unpredictable landscape of NICU and the will to survive.

Christie Watson, author of The Language of Kindness

Transcendent, moving, but thoughtful and necessary too, Mother Ship is its own miraculous achievement

Lucy Scholes, Financial Times

Heart-wrenching, heart-warming and heartfelt – Mother Ship is a beautifully crafted, warts-and-all love letter to our wonderful NHS

Adam Kay

[Mother Ship] deals with everything from libido to breastfeeding in a way that is simultaneously heart wrenching and deeply funny


Francesca’s writing is vivid and moving, bruised and beautiful, in this almost painfully tender account of precarious motherhood

Eithne Farry, Sunday Express

Beautifully written and profoundly moving… A powerful, poetic and deeply affecting reminder of precious your life and health are

Daily Mirror

A gorgeously written account of the 56 days the writer Francesca Segal spent with her critically ill twin girls in ICU after they were born ten weeks prematurely. Part thriller, part love letter to her daughters and the NHS


A tender, truthful, heartbreaking meditation on motherhood. There are medical emergencies, worries and Francesca's constant guilt. But there's also love, and gratitude for the support of the NHS and her fellow mothers. Beautiful


I can't think of another book I have read recently that has made me laugh and cry so much. It is full of wisdom, and humour.

Sathnam Sanghera

Even if I wasn't a new mother, I would have found Mother Ship absorbing and emotionally charged, but reading it in bursts while my own baby was napping, it was almost unbearably painful – and beautiful too. Almost every chapter brought tears to my eyes as we learned of the twins' hard-won developments. I'm so glad Francesca managed to capture this difficult time – her book is a beacon of hope.

Amy Liptrot, author of The Outrun

I loved Francesca Segal’s luminous memoir. It captures so much of what it is like to have a baby in special care and to start being a mother not-at-home. It is so good on resilience, friendship and love

Samantha Ellis

Mother Ship is a beautiful, poetic book about a different kind of motherhood, or at least a different start to motherhood that you don't hear as much about. It educated me about the shadowy other world of birth, that of severely prem babies... It's an exceptionally well-written memoir

Pandora Sykes

[Segal] is a natural, fluent writer and, in this book, the reader will feel confident in her hands even as she explores a shattering episode in family life… Segal is brilliant at conveying the tedium and the trials of life in the ICU and beyond. In short, Mother Ship is simply compelling

Anne Garvey, Jewish Chronicle

Hopeful, harrowing…and darkly funny, Mother Ship has you laughing, crying and frantically turning the pages to discover how it all turns out

Sarah Hughes

[Segal’s] words are a powerful, poetic and deeply affecting reminder of how precious are life, health and the everyday

Daily Express

Segal's moving memoir reveals not only what it takes to keep premature babies alive, but also what it means to be human and a mother

Vogue, *Summer reads of 2019*

Mother Ship is a huge achievement for Segal, who has produced a memoir that promises to linger with you like a literary earworm… an extraordinary testament to the power of human survival

Jackie Annesley, Sunday Times

Vivid, fearless and inspiring… This is an intimate and electrifying memoir. It is a hymn to the sustaining power of women's friendships, and a loving celebration of the two small girls – and their mother – who defy the odds

SheerLuxe, *Summer reads of 2019*

A deeply moving, yet also witty and heart-warming account

Wendy Bristow, Planet Mindful, *Summer Reads of 2019*

[Segal] captures beautifully the complexities and contradictions of the human body

Laura Hackett, Times Literary Supplement

An ode to the companionship of the women on the neonatal ward in the darkest, most volatile days, it is moving but never mawkish

Phoebe Luckhirst, Evening Standard, *Books of the Year*

A song of praise to the beleaguered, indomitable NHS, with writing at such a pitch that it lingered with me all year

Olivia Laing, Observer, *Books of the Year*

A heart-tugging account… this is one of the year’s most exquisitely written books

Claire Allfree, Metro, *Books of the Year*

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