"With empathy and keen insight, Sally Hepworth delivers a page-turning novel about the complex, lovely, and even heartbreaking relationships between mothers and daughters.—Emily Gifin
Three generations of women
Secrets in the present and from the past
A captivating tale of life, loss, and love…Neva Bradley, a third-generation midwife, is determined to keep the details surrounding her own pregnancy—including the identity of the baby's father— hidden from her family and co-workers for as long as possible. Her mother, Grace, finds it impossible to let this secret rest. The more Grace prods, the tighter Neva holds to her story, and the more the lifelong differences between private, quiet Neva and open, gregarious Grace strain their relationship. For Floss, Neva's grandmother and a retired midwife, Neva's situation thrusts her back sixty years in time to a secret that eerily mirrors her granddaughter's—one which, if revealed, will have life-changing consequences for them all. As Neva's pregnancy progresses and speculation makes it harder and harder to conceal the truth, Floss wonders if hiding her own truth is ultimately more harmful than telling it. Will these women reveal their secrets and deal with the inevitable consequences? Or are some secrets best kept hidden?
Hepworth dazzles in this smart and engaging tale of three generations of midwives in Providence, R.I. Telling the story from three points of view those of her grandmother, Floss; her well-meaning but often overbearing daughter, Grace; and Grace's reticent daughter, Neva Hepworth effortlessly switches from the past to the present, moving the story forward while skillfully providing just the right amount of backstory. As the story opens, Neva has just delivered a child at the birthing center she runs and upon arriving at her grandmother's home, she spills a pitcher of water, revealing the secret beneath her baggy scrubs: she's 30 weeks pregnant. Hepworth uses this as a jumping-off point for the many secrets that follow including one of Floss's that could tear the family apart. Grace is determined to find out who fathered Neva's baby, and her insistence makes Neva all the more determined not to tell. Grace herself never had a father, and Floss has never been open with her daughter about the subject. As Neva's due date approaches, glimpses of Floss's and Grace's pasts are interwoven, allowing the reader to empathize with each woman and her decisions. This intelligent, well-plotted debut will draw readers in from the very first word and keep them engaged until the end. First printing: 75,000 copies.
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The Secrets of Midwives
Very good. Read it in 2 days.