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Midwives (Oprah's Book Club) Paperback – November 8, 1998
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Did she perform at least eight or nine cycles as my mother said, or four or five as Asa recalled? That is the sort of detail that was disputable. But at some point within minutes of what my mother believed had been a stroke, after my mother concluded the cardiopulmonary resuscitation had failed to generate a pulse or a breath, she screamed for Asa and Anne to find her the sharpest knife in the house.In Midwives, Chris Bohjalian chronicles the events leading up to the trial of Sibyl Danforth, a respected midwife in the small Vermont town of Reddington, on charges of manslaughter. It quickly becomes evident, however, that Sibyl is not the only one on trial--the prosecuting attorney and the state's medical community are all anxious to use this tragedy as ammunition against midwifery in general; this particular midwife, after all, an ex-hippie who still evokes the best of the flower-power generation, is something of an anachronism in 1981. Through it all, Sibyl, her husband, Rand, and their teenage daughter, Connie, attempt to keep their family intact, but the stress of the trial--and Sibyl's growing closeness to her lawyer--puts pressure on both marriage and family. Bohjalian takes readers through the intricacies of childbirth and the law, and by the end of Sibyl Danforth's trial, it's difficult to decide which was more harrowing--the tragic delivery or its legal aftermath.
Narrated by a now adult Connie, Midwives moves back and forth in time, fitting vital pieces of information about what happened that night like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle into its complicated plot. As Connie looks back on her mother's trial, she is still trying to understand what happened--not on the night of the disaster--but in the months and years that followed. --Margaret Prior
From Library Journal
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
More About the Author
His new novel, "The Guest Room" -- a literary thriller about a marriage in crisis, two remarkable women, and human trafficking -- was just published.
His books have been chosen as Best Books of the Year by the Washington Post, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Hartford Courant, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Bookpage, and Salon.
His awards include the ANCA Freedom Award for his work educating Americans about the Armenian Genocide; the ANCA Arts and Letters Award for The Sandcastle Girls, as well as the Saint Mesrob Mashdots Medal; the New England Society Book Award for The Night Strangers; the New England Book Award; Russia's Soglasie (Concord) Award for The Sandcastle Girls; a Boston Public Library Literary Light; a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Trans-Sister Radio; and the Anahid Literary Award. His novel, Midwives, was a number one New York Times bestseller, a selection of Oprah's Book Club, and a New England Booksellers Association Discovery pick. He is a Fellow of the Vermont Academy of Arts and Sciences.
He has written for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, including the Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Reader's Digest, and the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine. He was a weekly columnist in Vermont for the Burlington Free Press from 1992 through 2015.
Chris graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude from Amherst College, and lives in Vermont with his wife, the photographer Victoria Blewer. Their daughter, Grace Experience, is a young actor in New York City. Among the audiobooks she has narrated are "Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands" and "The Guest Room."
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Top Customer Reviews
Sybil Danforth, midwife and mother of the story's narrator, 14-year-old Connie, has a thriving practice and normal family life. Then the unthinkable happens: on a cold winter night in the middle of coaching Charlotte Bedford through her lengthy and strenuous labor, tragedy strikes -- Charlotte dies while trying to give birth to her son. With phone lines heaving with ice and roads too treacherous to drive upon, Sybil is forced into a decision -- to save the unborn baby via a homemade Caeserean or let him die along with his mother.
As the events of that evening unfold, readers are privy to shocking information: the Caesarean Sybil is forced to perform may have been done on a living woman. Soon a courtroom battle ensues, pitting the medical community against midwifery, and readers will be left wondering after each page is turned what really happened on that cold, dark night.
Chris Bohjalian is a very talented writer who has obviously spent a lot of research on this novel. Telling this story in a female voice as accurately as he did makes Midwives all the more compelling and authentic. His writing style was very easy to understand even though it jumps back and forth between past and present. A hearty mystery with a riveting conclusion. I will be reading more by this author.
Through Connie's eyes, the reader is taken on a page-turning journey by a well-crafted narrative that moves back and forth in time like a jigsaw puzzle. We feel the emotions of her first kiss as well as her feelings about seeing her loving family endure this event. The writer captures everything -- the nuances of the parents marriage, the deep belief her mother has for her calling to be a midwife, the seasonal changes in the State of Vermont, the controversy between home and hospital birth, and the wonder of the birth process itself.
The story moves swiftly, pulling the reader into the time, place and internal feelings of Connie as well as the people around her. The physical descriptions of the births and the detailed medical information was fascinating and essential to the plot of the story.
The writer is a man, but you'd never know it and I applaud him for this wonderful book which will echo in my mind for a long time. I literally could not put it down and, even though I had peeked at the ending before I started the book, I still felt every bit of the suspense that the writer intended.B
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very well written from the daughter's point of view. As an RN, I found the subject not only interesting but spot on. It was obvious that the
author did a lot of research. Read more
A haunting review of the experience of a midwife and her family as told by the teenaged daughter. Even at the end, I'm still unsure...Published 19 days ago by Sher
This is the best book I've read for sometime. I'm reading another book by the same author Chris Bohjalian. He might be my new favorite author.Published 19 days ago by Merolina
I love stories about midwives......this was a good story and good writing. Not too much mystery or twists but I would recommend itPublished 23 days ago by Russell T. Shafer
I enjoyed reading about the issue of home births and midwifery told in this compelling narrative. At times, I think the author became a bit theatrical with the dialogue of the main... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Julian
Amazing book! I love the last few chapters where the trial transpired. The author knew what he was writing... Great read!Published 1 month ago by Christopher Motz