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.
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.
Customer ReviewsSee All
The Midwife of Hope River
Enjoyed this book very much. Wish there were more of it- didn't want it to end. Would have liked more closure at the end!
Unique historical perspective
A well told story about a midwife in depression WVa. The main character tells some socially conscious tales about haves, have nots, and a detailed array of birthing stories. The prose is fine, but there is a lack of emotional or explicable depth in some characters and more than a little stereotyping re race and rednecks.
Still, it was entertaining and worth the read.