Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Midwife of Hope River By Patricia Harman

Book synopsis(via Goodreads):

A debut novel featuring Patience Murphy, an Appalachian midwife in the 1930s struggling against disease, poverty, and prejudices-and her own haunting past-to bring new light, and life, into an otherwise cruel world

As a midwife working in the hardscrabble conditions of Appalachia during the Depression, Patience Murphy's only solace is her gift: the chance to escort mothers through the challanges of childbirth. Just beginning, she takes on the jobs no one else wants: those most in need-and least likely to pay. Patience is willing to do what it takes to fulfill her mentor's wishes, but starting a midwife practice means gaining trust, and Patience's secrets are too fragile to let anyone in.

A stirring piece of Americana, The Midwife of Hope River beats with authenticity as Patience faces seemingly insurmountable conditions: disease, poverty, and prejudices threaten at every turn. From the dangerous mines of West Virginia to the terrifying attentions of the Klu Klux Klan, Patience must strive to bring new light, and life, into an otherwise cruel world.

This insomniac's opinion:

I think most of my readers know that I am a nurse, and I think this fact is important as I do believe that it influenced my feelings as a reader of this novel. I do have a fascination(ahem, obsession) with old school midwifery.

I adored this novel. Patience was a wonderfully strong woman who is also incredibly compassionate and brave. She is ahead of her time with her thoughts of equality and I would love to believe that I would've been the same if I had been around in this time period.

It is very hard to believe that this is a debut novel- the characters, even those that we meet only briefly, are incredibly well fleshed out and very diverse. I loved the untraditional arc of the story, with multiple conflicts  as opposed to the more traditional large conflict woven throughout the novel. The ending was perfect in is subtlety and left me with a smile on my face.

Patience is one of those characters that I found a kinship with and will never forgot.

Rating: 5 stars

Worth staying up all night to read?

Yes!!! Lovely, slow-moving novel to read in the dead of winter.

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