Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Book Review: The Midwife of Hope River

I recently had the pleasure of reading Patricia Harman's third book and first novel, The Midwife of Hope River. The novel follows a fledgling midwife during the Great Depression. Fleeing from her troubled past as a union organizer, Patience Murphy moves to rural West Virginia to begin a new life. She finds herself on her own--as a woman and as a midwife--after her midwife mentor dies.

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Conditions in rural West Virginia are so primitive that Patience might have been living in the 17th or 18th century. Patience is one of two midwives in the county; the other is an old black "granny midwife" and well on her way to permanent retirement. Only the very wealthy can afford the county's sole obstetrician, so Patience finds herself with a rising caseload. Births were much the same as they would have been centuries previously; with hospital backup all but impossible for most residents, Patience has to learn how to handle just about everything herself.

The book isn't just about childbirth and midwives, though. It's a story about race relations, about American labor & union activism, about the development of obstetrics and the relegation of midwives to poor and rural populations. Most importantly, The Midwife of Hope River is a story of a woman coming to terms with her past and learning how to live--and love--again.

The book was a fun, absorbing read. If you love curling up with a good book, then you won't want to miss Patricia Harman's latest work!

Available at Amazon , Barnes & Noble, and Indie Bound. To meet Patrician Harmon in person, go to one of her book tour events! If she isn't coming to your area, you can follow her virtual book tour.

For more about Patricia Harman's writing, visit her website, Facebook page, or Twitter account. You might also be interested in my review of her memoir Arms Wide Open


  1. Wow, it sounds like there are a lot of big topics in this book! Glad to see it was a great read as well as an informative one.

    Thanks for being on the tour.

  2. As you pointed out, there's quite a bit going on in the book other the midwife thread, though I admit I really couldn't get enough of the birth stories and midwife talk.


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