"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

10 November 2013

2013 Book Review #33: The Mid-Wife of Hope River

I just finished this book early this morning.


This book is a gem.  It's a little bit historical fiction, a tiny bit of mystery, and a whole lot of depth regarding love, loss, death, forgiveness, racial tensions, the Depression era, and the West Virginia mountains.


Patience Murphy is a midwife with a gift for helping mothers, during challenging pregnancies/births, give birth to their child in a natural way.

She works in the "hardscrabble" area of the Appalachian Mountains, in West Virginia and the Depression has just begun.

Patience takes on patients that the town doctor or the other midwife will not help.  Patients who can't pay because they are the ones most in financial need.  Patience understands that there must be a trust between her and the birthing mom, but because she has many secrets of her own, she is not allowing any one in to her soul......

Until she meets the town vet, Daniel Hester.  They begin a wonderful friendship and Patience learns to accept her past, grieve, and move on.

Bitsy, a colored woman who is forced from the only home she has known because the people can no longer afford her, comes to live with Patience and is her assistant at the births.  

Many adventures await them....some good....some sad....some tragic...some dangerous!

And then Patience learns through some of the characters, that no matter who a person is, or what the person has done, when you hear someone's story, you see that person differently.

She learns that like in the Hope River, where there are many rocks, that we have "rocks" in our life's journey.  Trials and storms.  Some are quite unavoidable.  Some people will be left bruised and torn.  Some will be sucked right under but some........like Patience....will be freed.


This book is a wonderful look at the hard life during the first year of the Great Depression in the  Appalachians. It is a story about the miracle of life! and about the full circle of life and death....and how we go on despite the struggles and trials that come our way as mothers.

The characters are so real you will feel like you might want to meet them!
The author's description of the setting and various personalities make each person and place in the novel very much alive.

I really enjoyed reading about all the different ways that women give birth.  I was also thinking as I read it, that I don't want my own daughters reading this until after they have first given birth. It is quite descriptive and keep in mind that all of the births described were done at home with no doctor, for the most part.  We learn about giving birth to a stillborn baby. We learn about giving birth when the water sac has not broken!  We learn about how midwives were not fully respected back then and had many laws they were supposed to follow. Which Patience ignored!! She was full of spunk!!

I also enjoyed the author's notes in the back about how she used to be a midwife and her own husband's health center and the work that they now do.  She writes from experience and much research. 

I LOVED this story!!  I would love to see a sequel to find out what happens with Patience, whom we know has another name, and her relationship with Daniel.....what happens with them?  Does Bitsy continue to be her assistant or does she go off on her own??

I definitely recommend this book if you have given birth to a child........or if you just want a good book about the miracle of life.  It is truly one of God's most precious blessings...giving birth.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 17 and older (but as for my own daughters, I would be nervous that some of the scenes would make them think birthing is horrible...when in actuality it is a marvelous experience!).

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.


Dianna said...

I have waited for your review of this book ever since I saw it on your side bar because I am from and live in West Virginia. It is one purchase I am definitely going to make! Thanks so much!

Faith said...

That is so neat that you live in WV Dianna!! I've always wanted to visit there and hike down there!! Maybe someday....is on my bucket list!! It was an excellent book

Melanie Lopata said...

This one sounds like it'd be a story I would enjoy!!!

Susanne said...

I loved this book too. Such a deep story and one that draws you right in!