Monday, January 21, 2013

The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman

In The Midwife of Hope River, Patience Murphy is a midwife in West Virginia during the Depression, just after the stock market crash in '29. She, like all of her patients, is struggling just to by, yet she helps anyone who's in need. However, she's very leery about getting to close to others fearing that her secret troubled past will one day catch up to her. After some time, she begins to soften a little to those around her and soon discovers that good things can come out of that.

Overall, I really liked this book. The story was interesting and dealt with many issues of the time including, extreme poverty, racial tension and the Ku Klux Klan. The first time I picked up the book, I wasn't sure I liked the writing. It felt clipped rather than flowing. I put the book down for a bit while I read another book. When I picked it up the second time, the writing didn't bother me as much and I really got into the book. I loved that the chapters were short. It meant that I could read a whole chapter when I got a few minutes.

I liked Patience and loved reading about her work and her varied past. However, her constant self-doubt, got a little old. I also grew a little tired of her looking over her shoulder so often. I supposed it was warranted, but even the littlest things got her wondering if her past was coming back to get her. I also really liked Bitsy and feisty attitude. I loved how quickly she picked up what Patience was teaching her about midwifery.

I learned quite a few things about midwifery and women in labour. Harman, the author and midwife, gave vivid descriptions of the birthing process. I was extremely fascinated by the details she brought into the story. I don't have any children, but I did attend the hospital birth of my niece, so I was a little familiar with the goings-on from that point of view. While I'm not at all squeamish about such things, I can see how some of the details might make others cringe a little.

I loved reading about the issues that Harman wrote about. It was interesting to see how people lived during the depression. I also enjoyed the birthing stories. Some were joyous, some were unremarkable (if there can be such a thing), while others were really sad. After awhile, I didn't really want to hear any more bad ones. It got to be a bit too much.

After reading about so much sadness in the book, I really wanted things to work out for Patience. I liked the ending of the book, but it was a little hokey and not that believable. I don't want to spoil the ending for anyone, so I won't say more than that.

The P.S. section at the back of the book features some information about the author, a Q&A with her, discussion questions for book clubs as well as some interesting information about midwives and childbirth. I always find these sections well-worth the read.


For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit the HarperCollins website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at HarperCollins for this review copy.

The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman, HarperCollins, ©2012. ISBN 9780062198891(Advance Reader's Edition), 381p.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like an interesting premise but too bad it didn't follow through completely.


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