Friday, February 13, 2015

The Secrets of Midwives

Title:  The Secrets of Midwives
Author:  Sally Hepworth
Publication Information:  St. Martin's Press. 2015. 320 pages.
ISBN:  1250051894 / 978-1250051899

Book Source:  I received this book through the GoodReads First Reads program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "I suppose you could say I was born to be a midwife."

Favorite Quote:  "When something is forced upon you, you have no choice but to deal with it. The uncertainty - the not knowing - was much worse."

Three generations of women - Floss, Grace, and Neva. All midwives. Each with their own story. Each with their own secrets.

Floss is the matriarch. Hers is the story of the past. Hers is the story of friendship and what you would do for friendship. Hers is the story of escape, leaving behind all that is known to a country where you can be anonymous and you can start over a new life. Hers is the story of being ready and able to do what is needed at the time. Hers is the story of being able to keep a secret. Hers is the most interesting story of the three women; I wish more of the book had been about this story.

Neva is the granddaughter. A young woman forging her own path and looking for love and relationships. Hers is the most modern story. She is a young woman, living in an apartment with a roommate. She is pursuing a medical career, on her own terms as a midwife. She feels the pull of family and, at the same time, the conflict that often exists between mothers and daughters. She has friendships and affairs. Now, she stands on the brink of a new direction in life, with her own secret. Neva's story is a typical one of standing alone and then finding romance that may or may not survive the curves life throws at you.

Floss and Neva's stories have certain parallels; Grace's story is the bridge between Floss and Neva. She is a wife, a mother, a daughter, and a midwife. She seems very needy, and her character reads much younger than her suggested age. An attempt is made to link that need to Floss's story; in other words, the parent's actions affect the child's life. True enough, but in this case, the link seems tenuous.   The story of her marriage and her husband's job trouble also seems out of place with the rest of the book. Primarily, her story functions as the anchor for the descriptions of the role of midwives and commentary on the medical profession.

The two themes running throughout the book are the relationship between mothers and daughters and the the role of midwives in the birthing process. The story of mothers and daughters - their conflicts, their ability to share and support, the underlying love - is one that has been done many times over, in many different ways. This book brings nothing really new or surprising, but it is an easy, quickly read story of family.

The context of their profession and its interplay with the medical world is more interesting. The book does include descriptions of births and has a definite midwives vs. doctors undercurrent running throughout. The books describes the options of home births, birthing centers, and the perceived role and necessity of the medicine in this process that should be natural. This is probably the most memorable aspect of the book, more so than the story of the three women.

Overall, the story is a quick, light chick-lit read. Not bad but not memorable.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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