Longlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize for non-fiction 2020

The crisis of care exposed by Covid-19 has deep historical roots. For centuries the caring labours of women have been taken for granted and care work has been underpaid; its values disregarded. Over five years, Madeleine Bunting travelled the country, speaking to charity workers, doctors, social workers, in-home carers, nurses and other caregivers to explore the value and humanity of care. She finds remarkable stories, in GP surgeries, in end-of-life teams and in work undertaken by parents for their disabled children, that conjure a different way of imagining our society and the connections between us. Labours of Love is a vital portrait of our nation and a clarion call for change.

‘Labours of Love is a masterpiece. Humane, perceptive, honest, compassionate, wide-ranging, and erudite, it is a profound inquiry into the most important social issue of our time’ 

Raymond Tallis

'Moving, forensic and historically grounded. Labours of Love would have been timely at any point, but never more so than in the epoch-defining circumstances of 2020 as we seek at last to redefine our values’ 

David Kynaston


An urgent, searching and vital overview of the landscape of care, published as societies everywhere are waking up to the true value of caring work... sometimes angry, often tender, always illuminating’ 

Gavin Francis

'Labours of Love arrives at a perfect time: the world seems to have rediscovered the essential importance of care – but unfortunately is still very bad at valuing and resourcing it. Bunting’s terrific book can help change that. It cannot be ignored’

Mariana Mazzucato

'Even before the pandemic, this deeply reflective investigation into the crisis of care in the UK would have merited a wide readership. Now it feels essential... Both heart-breaking and enraging' 

Editor's Choice

The Bookseller October nonfiction preview


'Timely... When the coronavirus has finally passed, a primary question for policymakers should be how we can rebuild a stronger, fairer care system. They would do well to read Bunting's book to see what has gone wrong... ' 

Sunday Times

'Labours of Love is a fine achievement. It is full of humanity. I found it utterly absorbing and, unpopular though the word is, humbling.'

The Guardian

'Her passion and frustration burn clearly through, and with every fresh investigation you understand why; I was moved to tears repeatedly by the stories of vulnerable people failed by the system, but more often by the commitment and selflessness of those carers who told her how much they love their work.'


'Perfectly timed, and painfully urgent’

New Statesman

'Madeleine Bunting's book couldn't have come at a more important time... This political issue is one which can no longer be ignored after weeks of clapping and cheering outside our front doors for caregivers, many of whom are underpaid and disregarded. This luminous and compelling collection of stories should be required reading for all politicians'

Woman & Home magazine

'Go out, get a copy and if it doesn't move you, change the way you view the world, you can email me and I will buy it off you and give it to a friend, that's how good this book is.'

Matthew Taylor,

Chief Executive Royal Society of Arts


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