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The Midwife of Hope River [Digital]

4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,029 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Digital
  • ISBN-10: 0062198904
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062198907
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,029 customer reviews)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
99 of 103 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning debut novel September 12, 2012
Patience Murphy is a midwife in Appalachia in the 1930's, but before this, she has lived a much different life, under the name Elizabeth Snyder. She was a showgirl, a mother to be, a wife, a rebel. Her path has led her to a small rural area of West Virginia, where she attends the births of families, rich and poor, struggling with the changes in the world and the economy. Through it all, Patience dreads the day when her life as Elizabeth will catch up to her.

I thought this book was, in a word, stunning. I absolutely loved everything about this story. First of all, the setting was simply fascinating to me, having lived in or near many of the places mentioned. I loved hearing about Pittsburgh in the 1920s and 1930s, truly fascinating stuff. And having grown up in the Appalachian foothills, the culture described in this book is so familiar to me, despite the setting being decades before I was ever born. And the story itself, the life and trials of a midwife in those times, it was simply fascinating.

I loved Patience. I thought her character was so warmly and richly developed. We learn her back-story as we go, but it is done so seamlessly that you feel as if you have always known her. While she is far from perfect (and well aware of that fact), she is a very endearing character, and you really touched my heart. I love the wonder and awe she has about life and death, despite having seen so many births. She made me, as a reader, really consider the miracle of childbirth, particularly as it was decades ago.

There is something so personal, and comforting, in the way this book was written, that I often forgot it was fiction, and not the diary of an actual historical person. The book really captivated me.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Practice "Patience" when reading this great book... September 1, 2012
This is the second "midwife" book I've read - Midwives by CB was the first - and greatly enjoyed this one more than the other. I read primarily for "escapism" and the other was difficult (i.e. upsetting) to read. This book provided the escape into main character's (Patience Murphy) life that I look for in books.

The pace of this book is like the South - steady...slow...and it won't hurry no matter how much you try to rush it. I did this in the beginning because the pace annoyed me during the first two or three chapters. I realized later this tempo was set by Patience, of how she lived her life and created relationships. Soon I found myself immersed and finished it in less than two days at the beach. I especially liked having titles for each chapter, as they gave the reader a hint as to the slightly different focus for Patience, and what was going on in her life.

The background of the Great Depression is woven well throughout the story. Through Patience's struggles of being paid, getting to births and even hearing about news from town, bring a subtle light as to what it was like to live during that time period in the mountains of West Virginia. The polarized lives of blacks and whites, men and women, rural and city dwellers are also part of Patience's story.

Patience finds herself an inexperienced midwife after the death of her mentor during the 1930s. She's running from a past, and because of it, she not only physically isolates herself, but emotionally tries to do the same. But the births keep her tied to a community and the people in it. She finds everyone has a past, and as those continue to live life, she begins to live hers also.

*note: ARC copy won through Goodreads
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful August 29, 2012
The Midwife of Hope River is an engaging and touching novel of human frailties and triumphs. Patience Murphy inherits the role of the midwife of Hope River, a small rural community in West Virgina, when her mentor and friend, Mrs Kelly dies. Patience is no stranger to loss, orphaned at a young age she has since buried a fiance, a husband and a child. Mrs Kelly was her last link to her secret past and without her support Patience is apprehensive about managing on her own.

The Midwife of Hope River is told in the first person detailing Patience's experiences delivering babies in the community against the everyday challenges of life in Hope River. It opens with a harrowing delivery for one of the town's wealthy, white residents expecting a stillbirth, only for the child to be born alive. While Patience is relieved, she questions her own ability to be a midwife with such little training and experience. However with Dr Blum, the county's white doctor refusing to provide care for any one who cannot afford his services and the 'negro' midwife, Mrs Potts elderly and infirm, Patience is the only resource for the majority of the women.
The birth stories Patience shares are surprisingly riveting, not only for the circumstances of the delivery, but also for what is revealed about the individuals, families and the community. Slowly Patience is drawn into the fabric of Hope River, befriending Bitsy, a young black woman, who becomes her lodger, assistant and friend, and sparking a romance with the new vet, Dr Daniel Hester.

While the characters in The Midwife of Hope River are fascinating, Harman sets her novel against a time period of significant social angst in America.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars What a hard life these people had. Surviving was a daily struggle.
A fascinating journey through the hard times of Appalacia. If you like the tv series "Call the Midwife" you will enjoy this.
Published 6 days ago by Jerrilyn Moore
5.0 out of 5 stars That of the love and labor to bring another life into the world
A book about strong women who lived in a time where women didn't have much value other than as wives,mothers and slaves to their homes and husbands. Read more
Published 13 days ago by sdinstructor
4.0 out of 5 stars Good author and interesting story with good characters
I wanted this to be a series beyond 2 books. Good author and interesting story with good characters.
Published 28 days ago by Mona
4.0 out of 5 stars The Midwife of a Hope River
Would have given it 4 1/2 stars if possible. I really enjoyed reading not only about the midwife aspect but also the historical aspect of life in small town West Virginia during... Read more
Published 29 days ago by Wendy E. Bonds
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 29 days ago by Susie
5.0 out of 5 stars Fully entertaining and informative work.
Very interesting book. A love story with several directions. It is a blessing when you are so fulfilled by both personal and career life.
Published 1 month ago by wejani
4.0 out of 5 stars A great holiday read
Enjoyable book with great imagery.
Published 1 month ago by Lynette McSweeney
5.0 out of 5 stars surprisingly interesting bite of history
a very interesting story,not only of midwifery and the Amish, but the history of the area during the Depression, union-labor issues, CCAC history, and coal mine back story. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Haggys
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful read
Great book
Published 1 month ago by Paula Gershoony
5.0 out of 5 stars One of those that's hard to put down!
Loved this book. It was a peak into a quiter, more gentle,although harder life. It showed the way people were able to survive through their own wits and self sufficiency. Read more
Published 1 month ago by J. T. SHORT
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