The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman (Book Review)

I don't really get much time to read novels these days. If I do, I try and read them in spanish, so reading in english is a real luxury. Back in the days of small babies breastfeeding lots, I managed to read a few books on my iPhone (I love the kindle app). Some were awful. But I really enjoyed The Midwife of Hope River. So here's a short review, in case you're looking for something to read...

If you like birth stories you'll love this book. Patience Murphy is a rural midwife in West Virginia during the Depression. As the history of her rebellious, sad and not entirely innocent life unfolds, she intertwines stories of the mothers and babies that she delivers.

Her mentor and friend has recently died and Patience continues on her own, not feeling very confident in her skills. Times are hard for her, she's lonely and isolated, living in the country with no electricity and often doesn't get paid. Not only that, she takes on a girl, Bitsy, who was forced to leave her employer in the financial crisis. Initially she's not very keen on company but a strong friendship grows as she trains Bitsy to attend deliveries with her.

Written by a midwife, the deliveries are not only believable but gripping. (There's nothing that annoys me more than unrealistic medical dramas). Being one of the few midwives in the area, she gets called on at any time of day, never really knowing what she's going to find when she arrives. With little more than her hands (and a pair of gloves that she uses on special occasions) she manages the deliveries in a professional and empathic manner.

The characters are full of life dealing with love, death, friendship, disease, poverty and racial inequality.

A beautifully written book, I couldn't put it down. One of those books that casts a spell on you and leaves you brushing away the cobwebs for days afterwards.

Here's a link to the kindle edition: The Midwife of Hope River and the paperback version: The Midwife of Hope River