Mothers of Sparta Reviews

In her debut memoir, Mothers of Sparta: A Memoir in Pieces, Dawn Davies’s voice is so unique and strong, I felt like I was in the company of a straight-shooting best friend—one who tells it like it is, never withholding the often messy, terrifying experiences women and mothers must face. Davies takes on all subjects—spirituality, desire and dreams, divorce, children in peril—and she invites you into her private meditation on life and her search for answers to the experiences she has endured. Often gritty and raw, Davies’s essays have the feisty gravitas of works by Roxanne Gay. For readers faced with keeping up appearances and hiding the complexity and difficulties in their lives, Mothers of Sparta will be liberating, helping many feel less alone. You can’t help but have tremendous compassion for Davies as she processes her past, present and future. Davies inspires the reader to set aside pretense in order to save one’s spirit. Mothers of Sparta stays with you for weeks, months, likely years because of Davies’s ability to dig and deliver. I will be passionately promoting this spectacular debut. It is the most powerful memoir I have read in years.

-JANINE DE BOISBLANC, Orinda Books (Orinda, CA)

“This stunning memoir in the form of a collection of essays—each a vignette in itself—introduces an exciting new writing talent. In Mothers of Sparta Dawn Davies shares pivotal moments of her life through lyrical prose and a wry sense of humor. Titles such as “Field Manual—Divorce and Remarriage: Suburban Ops” and “Foster Dog” hint of the wide variety of subjects covered. Her life seems to fall apart when the family must deal with their youngest son’s sometimes unfathomable behavior issues. Davies shares her roller coaster of life; we are lucky enough to be along for the ride. Many lively book discussion groups will result from this gem. Highly recommended!”

—NANCY SIMPSON-BRICE Book Vault, Oskaloosa, IA

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“"Davies' essay soars from its mundane foundation. The conceit of Mothers of Spart is, simply, a discussion about living: capturing a woman at different stages of her life, and creating an evocative portrait in the's a memoir that locates the profound within the ordinary”


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"I don't remember crying that hard since I watched Bridges of Madison County.” 


“A superbly written book, at times gently poetic, at times devastating. I was spellbound from start to finish.”


"Powerful debut…startling, tragic, and ultimately redemptive…. Whether perceptively exploring joy or anguish, Davies digs deeply.” 


“It has been many years since I can recall encountering such a moving collection of essays. Dawn Davies paints a searing account of her life from the dating years through the joys and the darkness of motherhood. This engaging debut combines striking prose with fearless honesty to create a profound and thoughtful work. It is a completely immersive experience and one that will leave readers with much to contemplate long after they turn the last exquisite page.” ​ 
PAMELA KLINGER-HORN, Excelsior Bay Books, Excelsior, MN

“Beautiful and painful all at once. A heartbreakingly honest book that I couldn’t put down.”

—JENNY LAWSON, #1 NYT bestselling author

"Dawn Davies’s Mothers of Sparta breaks my heart in the best way. From the quietly meteoric trajectory of ‘Night Swim’ through the devastating title essay and the tidal pull of the collection’s finale (which had me awash in spontaneous tears, not for the first time), it was clear to me that I’ve been missing the voice of Dawn Davies—her humor and her scars, her tenderness and resilience, and her truly staggering ability to stun you with the emotional precision and beauty of her writing—all my life as a woman and a mother and a reader.”

KATE MOSES, author of Cakewalk: A Memoir

"Powerful debut…startling, tragic, and ultimately redemptive…. Whether perceptively exploring joy or anguish, Davies digs deeply.”


"In Mothers of Sparta, Dawn Davies writes like an avenging angel. Her stories are poetic, moving, provocative, and bracingly honest as she trains her lucid gaze on some of life’s deepest complexities: In the face of terror, betrayal, and impending loss, how do we love? And what does that love cost us? I’ve never read a book quite like this one, shot through with the light of an extraordinary talent and spirit.”

—DANI SHAPIRO, author of Inheritance

“Dawn Davies gives what one always wants from a memoir—a beautiful, stark honesty. That Mothers of Sparta also includes a poetic voice and an often heartbreaking, gentle, and even humorous portrayal [of] motherhood[,] that makes it a standout.”

—JUSTIN SOUTHER, Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café, Asheville, NC

Links to Reviews and Interviews

2018 by Dawn Davies