The Tenth Month by Laura Z. Hobson (1970)

The Tenth Month by Laura Z. Hobson

The Tenth Month by Laura Z. Hobson is a 1970 novel telling the story of a single woman who, believing herself to be unable to conceive, becomes pregnant. The story mirrors some elements of the author’s own life as single mother by choice.

In 1937 Laura adopted a son, who she named Michael Z. Hobson. This was quite unusual for an unmarried woman at that time. In 1941 she gave birth to another son, who she named Christopher Z. Hobson.

Not wanting Michael to feel stigmatized as the adopted child of the family, she kept her pregnancy secret, giving birth under an assumed name so she could then adopt Christopher using her own name.

The unusual circumstances of the author’s life were stranger than fiction. Echoes of her real story are found in The Tenth Month, though in and of itself, it’s a story of choice and chance in a woman’s life.


Two brief plot summaries of The Tenth Month

From the publisher of the 2011 ebook edition (Open Road Media): A novel of midlife motherhood and the basis for the TV movie starring Carol Burnett, from the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of Gentleman’s Agreement.  

Dori Gray — married, then divorced, age forty, professional journalist—had given up hope of a child. A botched abortion left her functionally infertile, and after a string of bad relationships, Dori’s prospects have seemingly dwindled to naught. Then comes the astonishing revelation that she is pregnant — by her married ex-lover.

Dori’s options are limited. Fearful that her doctor will decline to oversee an illegitimate birth, or that she’ll be forced into a hermit-like existence until the child is born, Dori confides in her married best friend, Celia Duke. Surprised by Celia’s confidence and support, Dori decides to confront her predicament head-on.

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Laura Z. Hobson photo from First Papers

Laura Z. Hobson
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From the 1970 Simon and Schuster edition of The Tenth Month by Laura Z. Hobson:  In her first great best seller, Gentleman’s Agreement, Laura Z. Hobson dealt memorably with the prejudice of antisemitism.

Now, in The Tenth Month, Hobson deals with another kind of prejudice — one far more subtle, emotional, and pervasive — the prejudice that society is guilty of when it forces a single  rigid code of morality on all human beings.

The Tenth Month is the story of Theodora Gray, a woman who has been told she can never have children, but now —after ten years of divorce and at the amiable end of one of her infrequent affairs —suddenly discovers that she is pregnant.

Happy to be a single mother

Dori Gray is not bothered by feelings of shame or self-reproach. She is delighted, and determined to have her baby. But another kind of dilemma poses itself: even before she is certain that she is pregnant, Dori falls in love with Matthew Poole, a lawyer who is married and a devoted father of two children.

Should she tell him she is pregnant by another man? If she tells him, how will he take it? Will Dori become another “problem case,” or will Matthew’s own strength and humanity prevail and let him respect the rightness of her decision to have her child?

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First papers by Laura Z. Hobson

You might also like: First Papers by Laura Z. Hobson
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Set in the tumultuous late 1960s

The story takes place in New York, and the year is 1968 — a year filled with riots, violence, and assassinations. Against this backdrop of destruction and death, there is Dori’s pregnancy and the baby’s birth.

The Tenth Month is an unforgettable story, told with remarkable perception and warmth. The acute observation and generosity of feeling that so illuminated Laura Z. Hobson’s Gentleman’s Agreement and First Papers are even more strikingly evident in this novel.

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