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Book review: A small-town ‘50s mystery explores virgin birth

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Small Pleasures

Small Pleasures” by Clare Chambers, Custom House, 2021, 345 pages, $27.99

At the center of “Small Pleasures,” the new novel from Clare Chambers, is the possibility of parthenogenesis — virgin birth — during the middle of the last century in a small English community.

At the book’s beginning, Mrs. Gretchen Tilbury writes to the editor of the North Kent Echo about a recent article called “Men Are No Longer Needed for Reproduction.” Mrs. Tilbury’s letter is not filled with indignation. Just the opposite: “I have always believed my own daughter (now ten) to have been born without the involvement of any man.”