Read The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman Online


A remarkable new voice in American fiction, creates an uplifting novel that celebrates the miracle of life.A William Morrow Paperback OriginalA debut novel featuring Patience Murphy, an Appalachian midwife in the 1930s struggling against disease, poverty, and prejudices-and her own haunting past-to bring new light, and life, into an otherwise cruel worldAs a midwife workinA remarkable new voice in American fiction, creates an uplifting novel that celebrates the miracle of life.A William Morrow Paperback OriginalA debut novel featuring Patience Murphy, an Appalachian midwife in the 1930s struggling against disease, poverty, and prejudices-and her own haunting past-to bring new light, and life, into an otherwise cruel worldAs a midwife working in the hardscrabble conditions of Appalachia during the Depression, Patience Murphy's only solace is her gift: the chance to escort mothers through the challenges of childbirth. Just beginning, she takes on the jobs no one else wants: those most in need-and least likely to pay. Patience is willing to do what it takes to fulfill her mentor's wishes, but starting a midwife practice means gaining trust, and Patience's secrets are too fragile to let anyone in.A stirring piece of Americana, The Midwife of Hope River beats with authenticity as Patience faces seemingly insurmountable conditions: disease, poverty, and prejudices threaten at every turn. From the dangerous mines of West Virginia to the terrifying attentions of the Klu Klux Klan, Patience must strive to bring new light, and life, into an otherwise cruel world....

Title : The Midwife of Hope River
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780062198891
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 382 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Midwife of Hope River Reviews

  • Teresa
    2019-02-14 03:22

    This book is really two stories wrapped in one. First we have the story of Patience, the midwife of Hope River, who is almost entirely disconnected from the community she lives in, despite being one of the most integral people in town. She attends births, but usually has little to no relationship to the mother. Despite this handicap, she repeatedly is able, in the matter of minutes, to size up the personalities of the people involved, calm the situation down, deliver the baby, and in one case, even convince a reluctant mother that she does, indeed, want to be a mother. The birth stories are lacking real human connection and warmth as a result of Patience's disconnection from her community. These birth stories were what I really hoped to enjoy, but they were clinical and dumbed down to the point that I really didn't get the pleasure I expected. It's also the story of her past life, which is amazing and improbable and ridiculous. Every time she almost connects to the people in her present, this past life intrudes and we're back to the glory days where she was spending her nights fighting the man and rubbing elbows with such notables as Mother Jones and W.E.B. DuBois. If there is a police car, she seems to forget the current situation (even when it's as dramatic as a mine explosion) thinking that the fuzz are finally on to her for her 10 year old crimes. Both of these stories are very interesting, and could have made a good book (or half of a book) alone. However, the way that they are woven together ended up slighting both stories. Patience is so wrapped up in herself, and her past life, that she simply misses out on what is happening right in front of her face. Every joy and every sorrow that Patience sees is reflected in her own joys and losses of years past. Patience is strangely naive for someone who has lived as much life as she has. While everyone grieves differently, the way she mourns losses doesn't seem authentic at all. Patience does do some growing by the end of the book, but it's too little too late. The real humanity of the stories, the WHY behind all of the struggles and midwifery, is lost in the telling. The book left me cold, which is the opposite of what I was expecting. I went in with expectations for a book with joys and sorrows. I was not expecting a deep, intellectual read, so there I was right. But I did expect it to be emotionally stimulating and gratifying, and in that respect I was sorely disappointed.ETA: I recently read Peggy Vincent's Baby Catcher. It is a wonderful, life affirming book of baby stories that I enjoyed thoroughly. I recommend it as a satisfying alternative to this disappointing book.

  • Kimberly Lett
    2019-02-01 03:06

    …the perfect novel to read during Autumn and Winter, The Midwife of Hope River, celebrates life, friendship, love and community. Get your hot cocoa, marshmallows and blanket together and prepare to sit for long periods of time as you enjoy this page turner that you’ll dread finishing. Imagine the time, an era of the Great Depression, where hope seemed lost with each passing season, each day feeling dark and troublesome on “Hope River.” Hope River is on the Appalachia Mountain in Union County, West Virginia, where you will surprisingly find a lot of diversity: miners, travelers seeking work, business owners, physicians, ministers and their families make up this community. The time is filled with racism, discrimination, many laws that divide us. A time where little work is offered, therefore many babies are conceived. A time before ultrasounds and technology, where hospitals are able to turn you around if you aren’t able to take care of the bill first and a time where doctors could turn you around because of the color of your skin is the setting for “The Midwife of Hope River.” In this novel, you will see the beauty of life bringing a community of people together despite their differences and the chaos surrounding them.New to the community, certified midwife, Patience Murphy (formally Elizabeth Snyder) has traveled a journey filled with sadness, loss and trouble. She now finds herself moving from the city to this rural area wanted by the law. With guilt on her heart and mind, she gives endlessly to this community with no expectations of anything in return. Patience does not turn away a birth even when she regrets it later. She attends the births of the affluent, the poor, black, white, homeless, Amish, Christian, non-believers. Each birth is celebrated uniquely, yet beautifully. In giving birth, many lessons on life are learned with each birth report she writes. Occasionally reminiscing about the past she left behind, standing up for those things she’s most passionate about: life, social equality and her new friends. With this new leaf on life, her new help and dear friend, Bitsy, a courageous black, intelligent woman with dreams of her own, they become a team in Hope River. Patience brings to Bitsy a home and work that she learns naturally, while Bitsy brings to Patience, a sense of what she endures as a black woman, family, warmth and together they embrace a beautiful friendship learning from each other. They both find healing in love, life and laughter in odd places. With each birth, you will feel that you are right there in the room with every detail given. This is no surprise since the author, Patricia Harman, served as a Midwife for several years passionately delivering life into this world, never losing a patient alongside her husband who’s a gynecologist and retired obstetrician. The author has been committed to service herself throughout her life as an activist and teacher. She brings life to Patience Murphy and “Bitsy” for each reader to love and enjoy in this beautifully written fiction. As it deals with “Life, death and the beautiful mess in between,” The Midwife of Hope River, will make you laugh as well as cry; dream and think as this beautiful and powerful story unfolds. The eye opening story it is, The Midwife of Hope River, inspires with amazing details from the past and a hope for the future as it brings into full circle, life, even in loss, while cherishing the greater good in all of humanity.

  • Rachael
    2019-02-16 05:01

    This book tells the story of Patience, a depression-era West Virginia midwife with a dark past. Patience is self sufficient and isolated from her community, but as she reaches out to others through her practice, she is knit to her community through shared sorrow and joy. This novel attempts to celebrate our shared humanity, through love, loss, and the intense act of giving birth to a child. Unfortunately, this beautiful and uplifting theme fell flat for me because I was never emotionally engrossed in the book.Honestly, I never felt strongly connected to the main character. Patience’s sordid backstory involves her meeting an extraordinary amount of historical labor leaders. It is completely over the top, and presented in such a “matter-of-fact” tone that it becomes absurd. She also seems to have a complete factual knowledge of every single historical event, illness, and personage that she encounters. This seems incongruous with the information she would have had access to at the time, and the way she constantly rattles off these facts to the reader feels like a Wikipedia article about the early 20th century labor movement. The setting is interesting at times, but the book failed to impart to me a strong sense of time and place. Patience thinks, speaks and acts exactly like a modern observer would, betraying no idiosyncrasies which would place her in 1930. She is essentially us, the readers, thrown into the depression and baffled by the injustice that we find there. It made me feel detached from the world of the characters.The most genuine and engrossing parts of the book are the birth scenes, which paint a rich portrait of the joy and pain of creating new life. It was these fascinating scenes, coupled with my keen interest in the history of childbirth, that held my interest in the book. As a piece of historical fiction, I found it lacking, but I would recommend it for those who are very interested in midwifery, and looking for an uplifting read.

  • Lynn Joshua
    2019-01-28 03:02

    The birth stories are interesting and realistic - as you would expect since the author is an experienced midwife. However, those events are the only reason I finished this book. The story was ruined for me because of the way the author has the main character, midwife Patience Murphy, spout off all of today's politically correct views on race relations, lesbianism, and women's rights, etc. This not only takes away from the believability - a woman in 1930 may have recognized and worked to overcome prejudices, but would not have been shocked by them - it makes Patience self-righteous and judgmental of the people in her community. I am not a fan of the popular practice of inserting 21st century sensibilities into historical fiction.

  • Chris
    2019-02-04 01:27

    (I read this book in the wake of a book I really disliked, and therefore was inclined to give it a pass. Upon a few days' reflection, however, it really doesn't hold up all that well.)*some spoilers below*My main impetus for reading is discovering new characters. It's what drives a book for me. Lizbeth/Patience is not a character with whom I could sympathize. I do not believe that such a person could ever exist. She was preposterous, truly a "most interesting woman in the world". She was in the circles of Mother Jones, but had to run to the isolation of Depression-era West Virginia? She was a flapper and a chorus girl and a wet nurse and the most successful midwife ever to wear the title?She was such a selfish, narcissistic, unrealistically actualized person. She was touted as such a powerful, strong woman, but never gave the credit to those responsible for her actual survival. She owed her house to her old mentor. She owed her very sustenance to Bitsy, who painfully served as a manifestation of how awesome Lizbeth was for being so incredibly tolerant (until Bitsy dared to have a life outside of service). She also ran in a panic in regard to pretty much every emergency to the veterinarian (who was apparently not a friend?).The character upset me, in short, because she only cared about herself, and it's hard to say that about a midwife, whose job is clearly defined as caring for others. Her meetings with mothers before birth-time was left offstage. Her attitude toward most every single birth was one of irritation, of being interrupted from her soulless reflection of how her life before being a midwife was so much richer, deeper, and more important than her work in the present. Even at times when there were clear legal troubles and civil unrest, she thought the police were after her, because of an anti-unionist threat a decade old.The character aside, the book was written in a simple style, but it was conservative and at times quite pedantic. There was not a birth scene where there was any real tension. Every birth the protagonist attended was a success, and not only that, but a quick success! The dead babies? She was called too late to make a difference. The baby she thought was dead? Nope, totally alive, and just a point to show that as long as she was around, babies would live. It came across as cowardly to write the character with no tangible failures to overcome. To be blunt, it came across as an advertisement.Any conversation regarding birth or midwifery stepped out of the comfortable, easy prose to the stilted voice of a midwife-instructor reading a script to an actor in a home-birthing class. Likewise, discussions of other historical events have an air of "I was there!" to them, rather than some meaningful insertion into the context of the era. It came across as name-dropping and not really understanding the nuances of the time.It was a quick and easy read, and should be accessible to most readers. The main thrust of the novel (from my perspective) was at least achieved, in that a positive tale of a traditionally accepted "lost art" (at least here in the US) was portrayed in a friendly, open light. One of the things I look for in a novel - dynamic, believable characters - was simply lacking, and, since there isn't a point of direct action where she isn't present, it lead to a frustrating (albeit fast) read. If you are interested in midwifery, this certainly paints an idealized picture. You will get some of the clinical detail, along with stressing some important points about new motherhood (breastfeeding is strongly encouraged, for example), but you might be better served to actually talk to a midwife directly than allow you to be influenced by this unrealistic story.

  • Jane
    2019-01-26 02:12

    Where I got the book: ARC from the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program.An eventful life has brought Patience Murphy to a rural backwater in 1930s West Virginia where she works as a midwife, at first a fairly inexperienced unknown but gradually gaining the respect and friendship of the community. With the Great Depression causing poverty all around her, she is increasingly called upon for difficult births because the families cannot afford a doctor or hospital, and her skills are put to the test. She develops a relationship of mutual aid deepening into attraction with the local veterinarian, and finds a friend when she reluctantly takes in a young colored woman who proves to be an intelligent and resourceful partner.I was sucked into this story very quickly by the birth stories, which continued to be the main fascination for me. I also enjoyed the depiction of life in the 1930s; it came across as very well researched, and I liked the way Patience's past brought out some of the social upheavals of the early 20th century.At times I thought this novel had the potential to be as thought-provoking as The Help, with its references to racial tensions and changing times, but in the end I felt that the author had shied away from fully exploring these themes. Situations seemed to resolve themselves a little too patly, and I often felt that the writing could have lingered over some of the scenes or emotions that were sketched in with just a few lines. It's rare that I find a novel to be too short (especially at 380 pages) but Harman writes very well and I could easily have seen this novel expanded.This feeling of not-quite-there extended to the characters. I found it hard to see Bitsy and Hester the vet; I would have liked to have known how the Patience/Bitsy situation resolved itself in the end, and how things went on with Patience and Hester. I would have liked to have known them more deeply, understood more about their backgrounds. I don't feel like there should be a sequel, though, and part of me likes the way threads were left for the reader's imagination, so I'm struggling a bit with my reaction to this novel.My rating is around 4.5 stars, simply for the combination of good storytelling and excellent writing. There were two kinds of story here; the individual birth stories, where I think Harman excelled, and Patience's story arc which I found a little weaker. Still, they added up to a page-turner and I suspect this novel has the potential to gain widespread popularity.

  • Beth
    2019-02-18 04:15

    I loved every page of this book. I was drawn in from the first page to the descriptive imagery of Depression Era Appalachia. This was a very hard novel to put down. Patience is strong, yet vulnerable. She is brave, yet fearful of her past catching up with her. Her lack of prejudice and openness make her different from her neighbors in West Virginia. Many of them view her with mistrust, yet they need her in a community where the only doctor refuses to help black people or poor people.It wasn't just the midwife aspect that made this book appealing. The everyday life of two women- Patience and Bitsy (a young black woman)- making their way in rural Appalachia makes this book a page turner. There is so much more to this book than just the midwife aspect. The book deals with prejudice, spousal abuse, exploitation of Coal Miners, heartbreak, and redemption. I love Harman's simple writing style. I look forward to reading more of her work.This one is definitely a keeper.Read this book if....*you love novels set in Appalachia*you love southern fiction*you love novels about midwifery*you love novels set in the Depression Era*you love novels about race relations and racial issues in the early 20th century

  • Jennifer Margulis
    2019-02-20 02:14

    I wish I could give this book MORE than five stars. It's gorgeous and heartbreaking. The writing is beautiful. Prickly Patience Murphy, who is bumbling along delivering babies in West Virginia, is drawn so perfectly: she is both flawed and likable, admitting her insecurities but taking charge when she has to in spite of them. The book has just the right combination of heart and drama. Trigger alert: there are so many touching scenes in this book--both happy and sad--that I don't think you can get through it without crying. Looking forward now to reading Patricia Harman's two memoirs.

  • Romancing the Book
    2019-01-29 09:28

    Reviewed by: AubreyBook provided by: PublisherReview originally posted at Romancing the BookI love this book so much. It’s honestly one of my new favorite books ever. I love how Harman writes. She is quite frank and to the point but with a lot of humor. The main character, Patience, is exceptionally well written. She is character full of depth and layers and unquestionably a character that is more than what she seems. She is a midwife, but you get glimpses of a life led before that was exciting. She holds many of the feminist ideals that I do.Her life as a midwife is not easy. She does not always get paid, but you get the feeling that Patience loves what she does. She faced many obstacles being a midwife in the mountains in one of the poorest areas of the country at the time and many men did not accept that she could do the job that a doctor could do. What is so fascinating about her attending all these births is that you get to see how all different families live and operate. You see the intersections of socioeconomic status and race and how the two intersect and how they also cause problems.As her first published novel, Harman wrote a story that is emotional and raw. It is one that I will recommend to many of my friends who are interested in birth and midwifery. This books is comparable to The Birth House by Ami McKay.

  • Faustine
    2019-02-10 06:30

    I'd maybe give this 2.5 stars - it wasn't bad, just wasn't fantastic either. I liked the character and the birth stories scattered throughout the book, but overall it seemed very disjointed. We keep getting vaguely unbelievable flashbacks to some vague exciting past, and its very difficult to reconcile with both the character we know and the likelihood of a woman in her socioeconomic status being involved in such settings. I was more than halfway through the book and wondering, is this going to go anywhere?? The ending is out of nowhere, because A) you don't feel in the page before that its something she really wanted, and B) that there is a strong relationship developed there. You don't feel much of anything really. I ended up feeling more for the cow, Moonlight. And wished I could read a book about Bitsy instead. I think that might be a problem.

  • Susan
    2019-01-27 07:26

    An excellent read of a midwife in WV during the beginning the the depression. It also weaves in the story of her past and how she became the Midwife of Hope River, in the Mountains of WV.

  • Lisa
    2019-02-15 05:03

    Started this review and had my computer freeze up -- grrrr!!! I was getting so deep, too. Attempting to reconstruct: I am always drawn to books about midwifery, probably because my daughter was born in the 1980s with a lay midwife. Although this book was set in 1929-30, I thought the descriptions of the relationship between the midwife and the mothers were spot-on. I loved how Patience/Lizbeth and her teachers stepped back, allowed the mothers to labor in their own individual ways, learned from the "outside" of the woman's body, and let her guide them in how to respond. As a beekeeper, I find this management style (rather than intervening with drugs or trying to control the process) to be much in tune with my own approach to the hives! So much can be learned without opening them up and disturbing their world and so much can be done with touch and movement and bringing in the elements -- as Patience does when she puts Prudy in the bath and allows the hot water to relax her. Another reviewer said "mothers don't ALWAYS say 'my baby, my baby,'" when labor concludes with birth, but I'm here to tell you, when I touched my child's crowning head, that's just what I said! There are many things to love about this book -- the wonderful research into early labor organizing, for one. My ancestors' roots are in Pittsburgh in the 1870s and I've often wanted to know more about those times. My ancestors came from Ireland via Wales and worked as "puddlers" in the foundries there. I've often hoped that they fought for justice alongside Emma & Sasha, but I don't really know. Patience is somewhat carried along by her times, first as an orphan, then as a chorus girl, "milkmaid" and later as a radical and organizer, and finally a midwife. Although some reviewers found this trajectory to be difficult to believe, I found it refreshingly familiar. (Never thought I'd grow up to be a lesbian urban agriculturalist beekeeper, with a partner in car sales, brewing beer, heating with wood, practicing permaculture, etc -- from my small town Catholic tee-totaling upbringing...) Lizbeth morphs and grows throughout the book and I found her evolution fascinating. (view spoiler)[At the end, I appreciated that Patience makes her peace with her past through her ritual of cleansing in the river and reconnecting with nature -- a perfect resolution. Also, I thought it was appropriate that she "felt like she was dreaming" while she carried the awful guilt of the death of her husband Ruben and that, after that expiation, she finally felt as though she was waking up. That made great sense to me and matched my experience of unresolved grief.(hide spoiler)]I loved the round of the seasons in the book. I found the lack of electricity, the reliance on the garden, and the bartering lifestyle interesting and well-described. I took pleasure in the many details of people's homes from grand to simple. (In the back of the book, I learned that a 1927 Sears catalogue played a part in imagining the setting -- what a great resource!) I loved how bits of Patience's past were slowly revealed as incidents in her life and with her patients brought them to the forefront -- it made for a riveting read as we learn more. As a lesbian & anti-racist, I have to disagree with some other reviewers complaints that Patience is unbelievable or too naive about racism, since she grew up in a racist society. (Unlike now, right?!?) When racist incidents happen today, I constantly hear other whites exclaiming in shock and disbelief -- how could this happen??? It's so unfair! I thought Patience's relative cluelessness about the ways that blacks in the story experienced discrimination was pretty true-to-life. Sadly, we can be blind when we're not the targets. And when we ARE targets, we can sometimes be a little more sympathetic, but far too often, we aren't. So, setting A+, characters & the development A+, involving story and writing style A+ -- unputdownable! This one was recommended by my friend Paquetta and I can't wait to tell her how much I enjoyed it.

  • Amye
    2019-02-23 01:21

    Patience Murphy is the new midwife of Hope River, although she's uncomfortable with the title of midwife since her mentor, Mrs. Kelly, has passed away and Patience has yet to fully complete her training. Yet, Patience has a gift, a real ability to understand the birthing process and to help a delivering woman bring her baby into the world. Through her eyes we experience many different birthing scenarios: from the presumed stillborn baby delivered to the MacIntosh woman, to the hysterical screaming delivery of a fourteen-year-old girl, each birth is written with such intimacy and tension that the reader feels as invested in these women as Patience herself. Set in the beginning of the Depression, actually the narrative begins the day after the crash, Patience has her own story as well. She is not just The Midwife of Hope River, she is a proud champion of the underdog, and we learn through Harman's tempered revelation, that Patience has fled from her home in Pittsburgh because of a terrible event. We learn that she and her mentor, Mrs. Kelly, and Mrs. Kelly's lover, Nora, were instrumental in the fight for coal miner's unions. They protested, along with thousands of miners, for better pay, better conditions, and better living standards. It is during one of these protests that something terrible happens, leaving Patience to flee and to change her identity.However, social injustice is not something Patience can easily forget. With each new family she meets, each new life she delivers, Patience learns of different-and not always pleasant-aspects of her new community. From the impoverished mining camp nearby where the miners, not unionized, are living in squalor and suffering horrific working conditions, to the presence of the KKK, the town of Hope River is nothing like the quiet provincial town it seems to be at first glance.There are uplifting moments in the novel as well. Patience reluctantly takes in a boarder, a young black woman named Bitsy. Their friendship blossoms slowly, but is realistic and heartwarming. Then there's the dashing Dr. Hester, the town veterinarian who has endeared himself to Patience by helping her with her growing farm. The two begin attending animal births together, and soon, something deeper develops between them.This novel has a lot going on. There's the back-story for Patience which is fascinating, the social commentary, the friendships and romances, and finally the births. And it is that last thing, the births, that keeps the narrative moving at a good clip and prevents the story from being bogged down by weighty social issues. Patience is a likeable character, and I loved that she was still getting her feet under her when we first met. The Midwife of Hope River is a great read. Patricia Harman is a skillful writer who knows how to build tension and to craft characters that we love and care about. The Midwife of Hope River is the story of life, of regret, and of the truth and beauty in all things. At 382 pages, it's a substantial read, but one you will find thoroughly enjoyable.

  • Anna H
    2019-02-09 01:21

    What's more dramatic than childbirth? Nothing. Is there another human experience that distills the meaning of life and death and our emotions about them, as well as chance, victory, pain and redemption into a single event more than a new life coming into the world?Nope. (Maybe open combat in a war zone -- and that would be the other side of the same coin... maybe.)No writer would be more personally acclimated to the real-time unfolding of this singular drama and all its pathos, ethos and and undiluted wonder than Patricia Harman, who worked as a midwife for many years before turning to a career writing about it. In addition to the two "Midwife" novels, she's also written memoirs about her life and career ushering babies into the world. Harman's descriptions of the births in the book take us straight into the delivery rooms of rural Appalachia in the 1930s, at a time and place when Americans as a group were never more desperate or destitute. Her renderings of the births make for excellent storytelling and suspenseful page-turning -- as good as any crime thriller or mystery.There was enough material to work with in the setting and characters within the novel's basic framework that it wasn't necessary to build up a huge dramatic backstory that saw our main character Patience Murphy as a player in the midst of the early labor movements in the U.S. The believability factor waned more than a little as the main action broke into flashbacks about Murphy's early life as an orphan, two-times widow and then radical and political activist. She even has two beagles named Sasha and Emma -- after Sasha Zimmerman and Emma Goldman. In writing, the adage, "less is more" applies. Harman was no doubt trying to beat home the idea of Murphy's early difficult life and how and why she ended up stranded in the mountains of West Virginia all by herself at a time when that would have been odd for a single woman. But she could have streamlined and trimmed Murphy's background to make way for richer characters and a more substantiated plot in the present. Overall, though, I enjoyed this. Any fans of the "Call the Midwife" PBS series and books should definitely check this out. I'm looking forward to reading the sequel.

  • Roxanne
    2019-02-19 08:24

    I began reading this book without looking at the jacket or introduction. About 20 pages into the book I realized I had read Harman's book The Blue Cotton Gown and had not been impressed at all.This book was everything I was "hoping" for and I'm glad I gave the author a second chance. Her fiction was way better than her non-fiction.This story is written so well that you don't know you are receiving a history lesson when you really are. I didn't want the book to end to be honest.I enjoyed the storyline which was well-paced and conveyed the state of the country. Which wasn't a time to be very proud of, but there were many people who were decent and really hard workers just down on their luck.My husband's family originally settled in Morgantown, West Virginia to work in the coal mines and glass factories. They were forced to move to Gary, Indiana to work in the steel mills. I was able to relate to the characters very easily.While the subject matter was often not pleasant, the author allowed the reader to see reality through Patience's eyes. Her true and honest demeanor was a relief. The compassion behind her care unmeasurable. I enjoyed reading about the simple aspects of Patience's life. Running out of food and wood. Getting a horse of her own. Then, getting a car of her own. I was really pleased with The Midwife of Hope River. I plan to read Patricia Harman's other memoir with an open mind.

  • Jennifer
    2019-02-20 04:19

    The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman is a beautifully crafted tale of one woman’s struggles in life, as she helps bring new life into the world. Patience Murphy’s gift as a midwife, as readers will discover, enables her to bring life into the world by assisting indigent mothers with childbirth. Set during the Great Depression, Harman uses much symbolism as readers are transported back to this difficult time when money is scarce, working conditions poor, and bigotry is surfacing amidst the peaceful backdrop of the Appalachians. This is a tale of hardship, love, perseverance, sacrifice and hope, characteristics all well developed through the plot that centers around Patience and her daily struggles, blessings, and victories. Though this is a tale of one woman’s life, in many ways, it is a very profound commentary on the social issues of the 1930s in the United States and by example; the story demonstrates the type of people that brought the country back into more prosperous times. I highly recommend The Midwife of Hope River to all historical fiction fans.

  • Deanna
    2019-02-10 09:03

    I picked up this book while looking for new authors to read. I was drawn to it because I think midwifery is interesting and also I was hoping to learn a little bit about the Depression time period. Instead I got one of those books where 21st century social sensibilities dealing with lesbianism, women's rights and race relations are unrealistically spouted off by the main character. In other words, instead of a book about midwifery and the Depression I received a piece of liberal propaganda which overshadowed and ruined the story with its smug self-righteousness. I'm liberal minded but not impressed with this tactic of inserting 21st century sensibilities in the early part of the 20th century. It's simply not believable. No more Patrica Harmon for me. I want my money back for this poorly written tome.

  • Eric England
    2019-02-14 04:21

    The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman tells the story of a midwife working in rural West Virginia during the early years of the Great Depression. The author captures the stark isolation and poverty of life in this region, but never really goes down the easy rabbit hole of reveling in unneeded bleakness. The emotions of life, both the positive and negative ones, are well-balanced in the narrative. Additionally, Harman is able to use her background as an actual midwife to add realistic details to the birthing scenes. However, the book never really obtains any sense of atmosphere or urgency. It is long, slow, and often repetitive. The argument could even be made that nothing happens of any particular note and what does occur is so muted that it loses impact. Overall, I would not recommend this book despite some of its positive qualities.

  • Diane S ☔
    2019-02-11 03:18

    3.5 This is a marvelous novel, not only for the character of Patience, but for the many layers of history it covers. The great depression, the mines in West Virginia, Mother Jones and the formation of the unions with the ensuing strikes, protesting the unsafe and long work hours required to be a mine worker, Patience has many secrets and these are revealed in flashbacks and so the reader comes to know Patience really well. The vet is also a character that I liked and I liked the comparison between Veterinarian medicine and midwifery. But the favorite part of this for me was reading about all the childbirths in many different circumstances and of woman through many walks of life.

  • Kathryn
    2019-01-30 08:20

    This was a good story about tough times during the Depression and living in Appalachia. The life of a midwife was hard back then yet so wonderful; women helping women. I am very glad I read this story.

  • Carole
    2019-02-21 04:12

    I really enjoyed this book. It took me a while to finish, just because it's been a busy time. I like stories such as this, about simpler times, and I loved the main character, Patience. I recommend this book, if you enjoyed Redfield Farm, you will want to read this too! 4.5 stars

  • Trudy
    2019-02-08 05:27

    Beautifully written story of a struggling midwife who practiced in an Appalachian mining town during the Depression era. Eventhough this story is fiction, it is packed full of historical American references and some really amazing birth scenes.I so enjoyed this story and did not want it to end.

  • Kats
    2019-02-14 08:17

    Patience Murphy, a midwife in Union County in West Virginia in the late 1920s, has a vital role to play in her community but owing to her past, she pretty much keeps herself to herself and doesn't connect with anyone beyond the professional level. Written in the first person narrative, in a conversational style (journal entries mostly), Patience often alludes to her life being a difficult one and to having to keep a low profile. Over the course of the book (covering roughly a year from autumn 1929 to autumn 1930), the reader learns more and more about past events and the shadows these have cast into Patience's life, and why she is the way she is. The more fascinating passages to me, however, were the descriptions of the economic climate of the time, the rising tension, anxiety and desperation among people, the racist attitudes but also the way neighbours and community members looked out for one another and lent a helping hand where they could. This is the sort of historical fiction that makes history come alive for me. I also happen to be a huge fan of the midwifery profession, having delivered two babies with the professional, competent and caring support of midwives, a doctor standing by merely as a formality. I loved reading the various birthing stories, good and bad, though sometimes the acute physical pain experienced by the fictional characters was so vividly described that I found myself breathing and panting through it as instructed by the midwife. Vicarious labour pains I'd rather not experience again. Thankfully, I haven't suffered the loss of any babies, born or unborn, or else this would have been a brutal book to read. Finally, I should point out that I fully credit the audio book narration by Anne Wittman for the fact I enjoyed the book as much as I did. Her voice is really versatile, and I loved her different accents, too. Not that I am in a position to comment on authenticity when it comes to West Virginia accents, but it sounded brilliant to me, and even her howling on behalf of sone of the labouring women didn't make me cringe. Very impressive performance!

  • Julie
    2019-01-25 03:19

    I was pleasantly surprised with what a wonderful book this was! I wasn’t sure I’d like the subject of a depression-era midwife because of the whole baby birthing thing. Not that I’m squeamish about the mess of birth, but being voluntarily childless, I find books like these can be preachy about the merits of motherhood and extol the beauty of creating life. Harman, a midwife herself, balances the themes beautifully. She addresses everything from the racial tension in Appalachia, the economic collapse, rural living, and yes, delivering babies. But she effectively expresses both the wonder and the terror that is the birth. The most exceptional aspect of the novel is the title character, Patience. She is haunted by her past, which is quite colorful (she was born in my mom’s hometown of Deerfield, IL!), but she has strong principles and I loved her to pieces. She’s often conflicted, but completely human. Harman does a wonderful job creating vivid settings and evoking emotion. This book has so much going for it: the secondary characters, the historical tapestry, the intelligence... I am so glad I picked up this lovely book!I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.

  • April Helms
    2019-02-05 05:26

    Very enjoyable. Harman, who herself was a midwife, covers a lot of territory with her novel, which is set in the 1930s, during the beginning of the Great Depression. Patience Murphy (actually an alias) is more or less thrown into the role of the town midwife after her mentor dies unexpectedly. She feels completely out of her depth, but gradually comes to trust her own strengths and instincts. It takes place over a year, and includes a mining accident, racial tensions, economic woes, and domestic abuse. Patience herself harbors many secrets, which are revealed a bit at a time. But she also finds trust, new friends - sometimes from unlikely sources - and new love. The various beliefs about maternal care and childbirth were fascinating. I did find it interesting that Patience was pretty progressive but even she sometimes fell into wrong beliefs (more of a reflection of the time, not to mention the advantage of reader hindsight). The book is well paced, with the action and character development believable and well done.

  • Kelley
    2019-01-24 06:07

    If you're looking for thrills and drama, this book does not have it. What it does have, is an account of the normal everyday life of a midwife. And to me, that was interesting! Probably that would be enough to make a good story. But throw in some racial tension (it is WV in the 1930's), a love interest, a lame horse, a few stories about suffragettes and union scuffles (including mentions of Carnegie Steel and Matewan), and you have a really good story. The fact that the MC mentions many places that are in my backyard, like Pittsburgh and Grafton, only made it that much better. This actually earned 3.5 stars from me.Now, if I could only figure out where Hope River is supposed to be. Is it a real location or not?

  • Sharon Huether
    2019-02-10 01:17

    The Midwife of Hope River.. by Patricia Harman ... A wonderful story how a brave young woman left the life she once had and learned to be a midwife from an expert. She relocated in the mountains of West Virginia, where no one knew her. She wrote in her journal each birth, learning from each one. You felt a sense of community, human spirit and love as she helped women during the depression.

  • Donna
    2019-01-23 09:29

    3.5 starsOverall, I liked this easy, short read. I find that surprising because if I had to chose one word to describe the story, it would be 'Pollyanna', and that is definitely not me. That kind of thing usually bothers me, but I did like it in this book. It was a sweet story. Everything was tied up in a neat little bow at the end, happy endings all around.

  • Barb
    2019-02-20 05:13

    Loved, loved, loved it. Story of midwife Patience and her assistant Bitsy.

  • Becky ♡The Bookworm♡
    2019-02-13 05:15

    I really enjoyed this story. Told in 1st person POV, we meet Patience Murphy, a midwife who arrived in rural West Virginia just before the Great Depression. Patience is a fascinating characte with a complex and sometimes heartbreaking past. There are many interesting characters in the little town of Hope River. It's a book about life and death, struggles and joy, courage and learning to trust. The writing is wonderful and makes for a great book to curl up with in front of the fireplace with a hot cup of tea and read away the afternoon. I'm looking foward to the second book!