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The Midwife of Hope River: A Novel of an American Midwife

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The Midwife of Hope River: A Novel of an American Midwife Cover

ISBN13: 9780062198891
ISBN10: 0062198890
Condition: Standard
All Product Details

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Midwife Patience Murphy has a gift: a talent for escorting mothers through the challenges of bringing children into the world. Working in the hardscrabble conditions of Appalachia during the Depression, Patience takes the jobs that no one else wants, helping those most in need—and least likely to pay. She knows a successful midwifery practice must be built on a foundation of openness and trust—but the secrets Patience is keeping are far too intimate and fragile for her to ever let anyone in.

Honest, moving, and beautifully detailed, Patricia Harman's The Midwife of Hope River rings with authenticity as Patience faces nearly insurmountable difficulties. From the dangerous mines of West Virginia to the terrifying attentions of the Ku Klux Klan, Patience must strive to bring new light and life into an otherwise hard world.

Review:

"Set in gritty Depression-era West Virginia, Harman's debut novel tells the story of rural midwife Patience Murphy, a woman who loves helping new mothers bring children into the world. But a secret, violent past keeps her from letting anyone get too close, at least until she acquires a black housemate named Bitsy as well as Hester, a handsome neighbor and veterinarian whose exposure to dying horses in WWI fueled his decision to take up his father's vocation. As times grow harder than they already are, these three unlikely friends have to pull together, even if it means revealing secrets that could bring trouble to them all. While Harman (Arms Wide Open: A Midwife's Journey, a memoir), a certified nurse-midwife who has practiced in many rural communities, clearly has a comprehensive understanding of midwifery, her narrative pacing leaves much to be desired. Patience's story is slow, and the characters that surround her are insufficiently drawn, creating more inertia than intrigue. Still, the stories of the births that Patience handles in this difficult era are fascinating. Agent: Barbara Braun, Barbara Braun Associates. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

A remarkable new voice in American fiction enchants readers with a moving and uplifting novel that celebrates the miracle of life. In The Midwife of Hope River, first-time novelist Patricia Harmon transports us to poverty stricken Appalachia during the Great Depression years of the 1930s and introduces us to a truly unforgettable heroine. Patience Murphy, a midwife struggling against disease, poverty, and prejudice—and her own haunting past—is a strong and endearing character that fans of the books of Ami McKay and Diane Chamberlain will take into their hearts, as she courageously attempts to bring new light, and life, into an otherwise cruel world.

About the Author

Patricia Harman, CNM, got her start as a lay midwife on rural communes and went on to become a nurse-midwife on the faculties of Ohio State University, Case Western Reserve University, and West Virginia University. She is the author of two acclaimed memoirs and the bestselling novel The Midwife of Hope River. She has three sons and lives near Morgantown, West Virginia.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Melinda Ott, February 17, 2015 (view all comments by Melinda Ott)
First, I have a confession. This book has been sitting on my bedside table, waiting to be read, for over 2 years. Obviously, the premise of this novel intrigued me enough to buy the book, but I just never had that push to actually read it until recently when I as contacted to review The Reluctant Midwife, the sequel to this novel. That was what I needed to finally get this book out of the TBR pile.

I was a little wary of this book. While I love Historical Fiction, it is a genre that tends to breed one of my biggest bookish pet peeves--stories with just too much going on it. To be sure, there are many, many issues addressed in this book--the Great Depression, race relations and the Ku Klux Klan, domestic abuse, women's rights, union and--of course--midwifery. Honestly, if I had known that Harman was going to go into all of these topics, I may not have even started the book. So, it is probably a good thing that I was in the dark about the plethora of subjects.

You see, Harman is probably the first author I've come across who successfully handled so many topics in one novel. This is due in most part to the structure of the novel. Patience Murphy is a woman with a past, and Harman metes out that past slowly over the course of the book. While I never felt that Harman was keeping information from me, I was always aware that there was more to Patience than I knew.

Another factor is, of course, the setting in time and place. This book is set in Depression era West Virginia. In fact, the book begins the day after the stock market crash of 1929. I don't know how Harman could have told many aspects of Patience's story without touching on these areas.

This is a very character-driven book and Harman has created a memorable character in Patience Murphy. Because we (eventually) get her life story, she comes across as a well-rounded, three-dimensional character. She is not perfect, but that makes her human. She is surrounded by a strong supporting cast. There is Bitsy, who she took on almost in charity when she was about to be fired from her domestic position and who became Patience's roommate, assistant, and friend. Mrs. Potts is the aging midwife who hands her "business" over to Patience. And there is Dr. Hester, the vet with whom Patience begins a professional relationship that soon turns into one of trust and friendship.

There are some graphic childbirth scenes which may be hard for squeamish readers. Yet,I found some of those scenes to be the most fascinating in the book. Patience is the first to admit that she is barely qualified to be a midwife and her journal about her work become almost a textbook-in-progress for her. As she meets families in their homes, readers are brought into the hardship of depression era Appalachia.

As I said, this is a very character-driven book, which I enjoy. As a result, the plot is subdued--this is not to say that there is not a plot in this book, but it definitely plays second fiddle to the characters and setting. Because I am a reader who values characters over plot, this did not bother me. However, I can see how other readers may feel that this book lacks the backbone of a strong plot.

Even though it took over 2 years for me to finally read this book, it was worth it and I am now eagerly looking forward to starting The Reluctant Midwife. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in fiction dealing with women's history or 20th century US History.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780062198891
Author:
Harman, Patricia
Publisher:
William Morrow & Company
Subject:
Historical
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Trade PB
Series:
Hope River
Series Volume:
1
Publication Date:
20120831
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Pages:
400
Dimensions:
8 x 5.3125 x 0.720721 in 10.4 oz

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Related Subjects

» Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
» Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Family Life

The Midwife of Hope River: A Novel of an American Midwife Used Trade Paper
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$10.50 In Stock
Product details 400 pages William Morrow & Company - English 9780062198891 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Set in gritty Depression-era West Virginia, Harman's debut novel tells the story of rural midwife Patience Murphy, a woman who loves helping new mothers bring children into the world. But a secret, violent past keeps her from letting anyone get too close, at least until she acquires a black housemate named Bitsy as well as Hester, a handsome neighbor and veterinarian whose exposure to dying horses in WWI fueled his decision to take up his father's vocation. As times grow harder than they already are, these three unlikely friends have to pull together, even if it means revealing secrets that could bring trouble to them all. While Harman (Arms Wide Open: A Midwife's Journey, a memoir), a certified nurse-midwife who has practiced in many rural communities, clearly has a comprehensive understanding of midwifery, her narrative pacing leaves much to be desired. Patience's story is slow, and the characters that surround her are insufficiently drawn, creating more inertia than intrigue. Still, the stories of the births that Patience handles in this difficult era are fascinating. Agent: Barbara Braun, Barbara Braun Associates. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by , A remarkable new voice in American fiction enchants readers with a moving and uplifting novel that celebrates the miracle of life. In The Midwife of Hope River, first-time novelist Patricia Harmon transports us to poverty stricken Appalachia during the Great Depression years of the 1930s and introduces us to a truly unforgettable heroine. Patience Murphy, a midwife struggling against disease, poverty, and prejudice—and her own haunting past—is a strong and endearing character that fans of the books of Ami McKay and Diane Chamberlain will take into their hearts, as she courageously attempts to bring new light, and life, into an otherwise cruel world.
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