Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Currently reading

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah E. Harkness. A fun read in which an American witch and a French (well, now he's British 1000+ years later) vampire, pursuing an ancient manuscript, fall in love. Oh, and there are daemons too. It's written by a history professor, so keep your eyes open for historical references to various medical and alchemical personages. The book ended right when things were getting really interesting, so I certainly hope there's another book in the works!

The Witch's Daughter by Paula Brackston. A 300+ year saga of an English witch, pursued through time by her warlock tormentor Gideon. The story spins the tale of the dueling forces of good (the witchcraft practiced by the narrator) and evil (the sorcery and Devil worship practiced by Gideon). Lots of  details about paganism & Wiccan practices sprinkled throughout the book.

The Proviso and Stay by Moriah Jovan. I read a book review of Jovan's most recent novel Magdalene and was hooked: a recently-widowed Mormon bishop who marries an former high-end prostitute? Too fun to pass up! I haven't been able to get my hands on Magdalene yet, but I did read the first two novels of the Tales of Dunham series. Her books aren't for the faint of heart--there is a lot of swearing and a lot of sex. I found myself very intrigued by the characters in her books, especially those in The Proviso. Many of them are, for lack of a better word, "Mormon misfits," the kind of people I would love to spend time with. These books are definitely not Mormon genre fiction, though; while several of her characters are Mormon, their religion isn't the central focus of the story. I liked The Proviso more than Stay, which was more of a romance than anything else. I'm less than patient when the central drama is "will they or won't they finally admit that they love each other?

Arms Wide Open: A Midwife's Journey by Patricia Harman. I expected this book to be a memoir about being a midwife, but instead it's mostly a memoir of her evolution from a back-to-the-land anti-war hippie living in a commune (who, on the side, became a home birth midwife) to a nurse-midwife married to an OB/GYN three decades later. Even as it questions the utility (futility?) of the counter-cultural movements of the 1960s and 70s, Harman's book also celebrates that hopefulness and optimism that led people to deliberately abandon their possessions and educations and live lives of voluntary poverty. I was hoping for more stories of her life as a midwife, but I'll have to read her other book, The Blue Cotton Gown, for those tales.


  1. The Blue Cotton Gown is more of a chronicle of her business and marriage falling apart. There are a few stories of women that she saw in her practice with her husband, but this was after they had stopped doing births. There are no births in the story. I was a little disappointed.

  2. I agree with the previous commenter and will just add the Blue Cotton Gown mainly tells stories of her gynecological work. Okay if that's your thing, but sorely lacking in birth stories. I was very disappointed in Arms Wide Open (I just happen to be re-reading it at the moment) because it has very few birth stories. Mostly about her personal life.

  3. Arms Wide Open sounds very interesting . . . sounds like it addresses the "two worlds" I feel caught between a lot of the time. Will have to check the library!

  4. I really enjoyed both of her books (I've reviewed them both on my own site), but as noted about, Blue Cotton Gown is about her post-birth work as a CNM in a women's health practice. No births, but lots of women's health work. I like seeing the full range of what being "with woman" can mean. I also like how both of her books focus on her whole life--feelings, thoughts, etc. rather than being completely focused on midwifery. I find it a more well-rounded picture than we get from more birth-oriented midwives' memoirs.

  5. I just finished "A Discovery of Witches." I listened to the audiobook and I highly recommend that as it was very well done. I agree about the ending. I'm guessing there's a sequel in the works. --Dawn


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