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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Lovers of historical fiction are in for a treat with McKay's absorbing debut novel, set in an early-20th-century Nova Scotia village, and spun around the theme of time-tested, homespun wisdom verses more sterile scientific progress.
Dora Rare is a midwife's apprentice. Working closely under the tutelage of the Cajun-born Marie Babineau, Dora learns both how to deliver babies and how to concoct the herbal remedies for various womanly afflictions. Miss Babineau's expertise is unquestioned, and her place in the community seems assured. But when a medical doctor arrives from a nearby town, decrying midwifery and urging women to give birth in his newly constructed maternity ward -- complete with chloroform and sterilized forceps -- Miss Babineau's future and reputation are challenged. And when Dora is forced to flee to Boston, she's exposed to a whole new range of choices for women, but must count on the loyalty of her friends back home to pave the way for her return.
Rich with historical references, beliefs, and fears, McKay's characters wrestle with superstitions and prejudices as they strive for autonomy over their bodies -- despite the objections of their often domineering or abusive husbands. A woman's right to control her own body is a theme that still resonates today, and McKay explores it with insight, sensitivity and tremendous passion. (Holiday 2006 Selection)