The Midwife of Hope River
By Patricia Harman
I usually don’t like books that jump from the present to the past and back again, however, Patricia Harman does it so well in The Midwife of Hope River that I must change my mind. Incorporating births from her own experience as a midwife and seamlessly blending in a framework of history from upper class Chicago at the turn of the century, through union organizing in the coal fields and factories of the northeast and the Great Depression in Appalachia just before WWII, Harmon tells a moving and riveting tale of birth and death. Her well-developed characters and realistic situations carry the reader into harrowing tales of medical practice in an isolated community with sporadic running water or electricity and less money. Yet hope and faith permeate the lives of black, white and ethnic personalities who meet life’s challenges with grace. You will cheer as Patience Murphy grows from a naïve girl to confident midwife.
This book would work well for book groups made of women only, mothers and daughters, medical professionals and even men - who might learn a few things about the women who birthed them, love them and bear their children.