The Midwife of Hope River (Hope River Series #1)

The Midwife of Hope River (Hope River Series #1)

4.3 132
by Patricia Harman
     
 

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A remarkable new voice in American fiction enchants readers with a moving and uplifting novel that celebrates the miracle of life. In The Midwife of Hope River, first-time novelist Patricia Harmon transports us to poverty stricken Appalachia during the Great Depression years of the 1930s and introduces us to a truly unforgettable heroine. Patience Murphy, a

Overview

A remarkable new voice in American fiction enchants readers with a moving and uplifting novel that celebrates the miracle of life. In The Midwife of Hope River, first-time novelist Patricia Harmon transports us to poverty stricken Appalachia during the Great Depression years of the 1930s and introduces us to a truly unforgettable heroine. Patience Murphy, a midwife struggling against disease, poverty, and prejudice—and her own haunting past—is a strong and endearing character that fans of the books of Ami McKay and Diane Chamberlain will take into their hearts, as she courageously attempts to bring new light, and life, into an otherwise cruel world.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in gritty Depression-era West Virginia, Harman’s debut novel tells the story of rural midwife Patience Murphy, a woman who loves helping new mothers bring children into the world. But a secret, violent past keeps her from letting anyone get too close, at least until she acquires a black housemate named Bitsy as well as Hester, a handsome neighbor and veterinarian whose exposure to dying horses in WWI fueled his decision to take up his father’s vocation. As times grow harder than they already are, these three unlikely friends have to pull together, even if it means revealing secrets that could bring trouble to them all. While Harman (Arms Wide Open: A Midwife’s Journey, a memoir), a certified nurse-midwife who has practiced in many rural communities, clearly has a comprehensive understanding of midwifery, her narrative pacing leaves much to be desired. Patience’s story is slow, and the characters that surround her are insufficiently drawn, creating more inertia than intrigue. Still, the stories of the births that Patience handles in this difficult era are fascinating. Agent: Barbara Braun, Barbara Braun Associates. (Sept.)
Cleveland Plain Dealer
“[A] frank, absorbing memoir from a midwife at a tiny West Virgina health clinic.”
Boston Globe
“Well-written and heartfelt.”
Penny Armstrong
“As always when writing of birth, the bleakest of times can be transformed by the power and beauty of birth...the moments of joy between new parents and their baby, between the mothers and the midwife, and between the midwife and her young assistant, light up the pages. Amen baby!”
Amy Hill Hearth
“I learned, I laughed, I cried, but most of all I was deeply impressed by the artistry of the midwife and her central role in women’s lives prior to the advent of commercialized, institutionalized medicine. This novel will live in my heart for years to come.”
Shelf Awareness
“A moving and illuminating memoir from a talented nurse-midwife about the troubled courageous women in her care.”
Fran Lewis
“...will definitely renew your faith in love, loyalty, forgiveness, understanding and just plain HOPE.”
Johanna Moran
“The Midwife of Hope River...is still on my mind days after finishing. From start to satisfying conclusion, it is a beautifully imagined novel, a marvel of a debut, rich with fully realized characters and events. This is one I’ll read again, more slowly next time.”
Gay Courter
“a luminous novel of new beginnings, loss, love…and yes hope! Patricia Harman’s all-too-human stories of birth mingle with the harsh realities of rural life in the 1930s...A thoroughly satisfying read by a talented storyteller.”
Library Journal
At age 36, Patience Murphy is a widow and union sympathizer whose radical past has sent her into hiding. When the Great Depression arrives, Patience is living in West Virginia, working as a novice midwife until the death of her mentor forces her to attend births alone. With the help of a nearby veterinarian and an African American girl, Bitsy, Patience keeps the wolves from her door. Called out at any hour of the day to the homes of both the poor and the not-so-poor, she slowly earns respect for her midwifery skills, if not much in the way of cash. Penning journal entries of each birth, as well as colorful back stories of the time she spent with anarchists and the two men she loved, Patience strives to make sense of her life. VERDICT Memoirist Harman (Arms Open Wide; The Blue Cotton Gown), herself a certified nurse-midwife, takes readers back to hardscrabble times and adds plenty of medical drama and a dash of romance, to offer an uncommonly good piece of American historical fiction. [For a contemporary take on midwives, see Bridget Boland's The Doula, coming in September from Gallery Books—Ed.]—Keddy Ann Outlaw, formerly with Harris County P.L., Houston
Kirkus Reviews
Prohibition, the Ku Klux Klan, unions, Mother Jones--the early-20th century would be a tough world for anyone. Orphan, unwed mother, widow, midwife--Patience Murphy is a worthy adversary. Following her acclaimed memoirs (Arms Wide Open: A Midwife's Journey, 2011, etc.), Harman offers her debut novel, tracing the life of a midwife in Appalachia. Yet Patience Murphy is no ordinary midwife. Indeed, much of society would question whether she meets the primary qualification for midwives in early-20th-century America: good moral character. Orphaned at the age of 14, Patience is sent to live first with a kind widow and then to Saint Mary's House of Mercy Orphanage. She makes good use of herself, reading to the younger children and working in the laundry. Eventually, Patience escapes her drudgery to become a chorus girl, lying about her name and age to secure the job. There she falls in love with Lawrence, a scene designer. Soon pregnant, Patience loses her child when Lawrence is killed in a train wreck. Yet Patience's tribulations and adventures have only begun. She becomes a professional wet nurse, an accidental thief and a fugitive from a would-be rapist. She is welcomed on the fringes of society by union agitators and midwives--until a violent workers' strike brings her world crashing down. After fleeing to Appalachia, Patience finds herself hiding her past while trying to gain some professional respect--a difficult goal, given that midwives could not legally perform internal exams on their patients. Threading these events together are the fascinating birth stories. Midwives are warriors in this beautifully sweeping tale.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062198891
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
08/28/2012
Series:
Hope River Series, #1
Edition description:
Original
Pages:
382
Sales rank:
168,673
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

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What People are saying about this

Penny Armstrong
“As always when writing of birth, the bleakest of times can be transformed by the power and beauty of birth...the moments of joy between new parents and their baby, between the mothers and the midwife, and between the midwife and her young assistant, light up the pages. Amen baby!”
Gay Courter
“a luminous novel of new beginnings, loss, love…and yes hope! Patricia Harman’s all-too-human stories of birth mingle with the harsh realities of rural life in the 1930s...A thoroughly satisfying read by a talented storyteller.”
Fran Lewis
“...will definitely renew your faith in love, loyalty, forgiveness, understanding and just plain HOPE.”
Amy Hill Hearth
“I learned, I laughed, I cried, but most of all I was deeply impressed by the artistry of the midwife and her central role in women’s lives prior to the advent of commercialized, institutionalized medicine. This novel will live in my heart for years to come.”
Johanna Moran
“The Midwife of Hope River...is still on my mind days after finishing. From start to satisfying conclusion, it is a beautifully imagined novel, a marvel of a debut, rich with fully realized characters and events. This is one I’ll read again, more slowly next time.”

Meet the Author

Patricia Harman, CNM, got her start as a lay midwife on rural communes and went on to become a nurse-midwife on the faculties of Ohio State University, Case Western Reserve University, and West Virginia University. She is the author of two acclaimed memoirs and the bestselling novel The Midwife of Hope River. She has three sons and lives near Morgantown, West Virginia.

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The Midwife of Hope River 4.3 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 132 reviews.
the-PageTurner More than 1 year ago
I loved this book- depression era West Virginia sounded rather depressing- but this book is about hope and life. I could not put it down. I hope the author plans a sequel
Caseylondon More than 1 year ago
Coal mining West Virginia during the 1930's is the setting for Patricia Harman's engaging debut novel, THE MIDWIFE OF HOPE RIVER. Patience Murphy is making a new life caring for pregnant women in Appalachia as she reconciles her past with her new surroundings. With the heart of Sandra Dallas, the intensity of Gay Courter and a nod to Barbara Wood the author integrates historical notes (the Great Depression, Appalachian coal mining, unions for miners and lack thereof, Emma Goldman the anarchist, Mother Jones, and even the Ku Klux Klan) into a seamless story about womanhood and the inherent risks of childbirth. She writes of a world where poverty, malnutrition and unequal access to quality healthcare can mean the difference between life and death. And while Patience's story is the story of her female clients and their children's births it is also her story. Harman weaves Patience's personal tale with gentleness and sudden details that leave the reader wondering how the midwife can escape her own sadness to help her patients. Can the town vet be counted on as an ally for Patience? Can Patience reconcile her own past and move forward to be the midwife Hope River needs? Can she face the challenges for both the poorest and wealthiest of her clients? Can she train an apprentice? Will her past change her future? An excellent book about the fragility of life, the miracle of birth, the community of neighbors, the Great Depression, love and healing and a woman's journey to find her place in the world. Beautifully written and a joy to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My book club chose this book because of the depression era theme. It was a wonderful story about this period of American history. Everyone liked the book which does not always happen. We also had a great discussion about our own relatives during that time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting. I love historical fiction and this book did not disappoint.
Smartlady53 More than 1 year ago
"The Midwife of Hope River" is a stunning tale of true grit in West Virginia during the Depression-era. Patience is a truly flawed yet extraordinarily likeable character who finds friendship, love and a new life after enduring much heartbreak. The true to life stories of birthing are heartwarming, humorous and some horiffic. When I got to the last 60 pages...I savored each one not wanting the story to end. It is a MUST READ for all book clubs!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a wonderful story and just when I didn't know what to read. I heard from my sister what a good book this was so I got the Nook version and couldn't put it down. Great reading for women and anyone who appreciates the struggles some women have had in their lives. Heartwarming.
MegKMK More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading this book. The author kept the story moving and interesting. It is a very good read. I look forward to more books by this Author Patricia Harmon.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is undoubtedly the most interesting, exciting, overwhelming description of the life and times of a midwife during the most tumultuous times in the history of the United States. The story is written from the heart and reaches into the heart of the reader.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Quite an interesting book. Well developed charachters, and easy to read. Will look forward to reading more by this author
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written. Loved this book.
RtBBlog More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by: Aubrey Book provided by: Publisher Review originally posted at Romancing the Book I 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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This hard to put down book weaves a great story that pulls the reader onto page after page. Nicely done!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Midwife of Hope River was set in Depression era West Virginia. Patience Murphy is a very empathetic and caring midwife. She lives alone except for her memories of lost loved ones and the fear of the law catching up with her for past wrong doings. When she befriends a colored woman some of the locals don't care for it and let her know. I highly recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful read that you won't want to put down. You will fall in love with the main character and never find a dull moment! Loved everything about this book and writer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wonderful story of a midwife who carries her own secrets while trying to stay "invisble" to the outside world. A story of unlikley friendships with the backdrop of the depression, the struggle of the poorest of the poor, but the strength of the human spirit. Story moves along effortlessly. Enjoyable and easy to be part of the story!! Won't disappoint.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I have ever read! I could hardly put it down. Patsy Harman is a wonderful storyteller, making the reader feel as if they are side by side with the characters of this Appalachian town. Loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great novel Great read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story was so good that I could hardly put it down. I just wanted to read more and more. I would definitely read another book by this author.
Pheety More than 1 year ago
As a R. N I found the book fascinating. Very enjoyable and hard to put down.
SKWV More than 1 year ago
From the first page until the last the story kept up a fast pace. The characters were well researched for the time period and authentencity. As a native of West Virginia and knowing some of its early history I could relate to the local area locations in the book and what it must have been like during the hardship years of the late 1920s through the early 1930s. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and wished it had continued to a sequel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Takes place in the 1920"s, but timely. Good Book discussion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome, beautiful story! I couldn't put it down. Am really hoping the next one in the series will be just as good. One of the best books I have ever read. MJ Mason
MIchele2112 More than 1 year ago
I have loved reading this book. I read the sample pages online and purchased it the next day, and it has not disappointed. The relationships feel very real for the era. Looking forward to reading more from this author!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MrsJessup More than 1 year ago
A lovely, well written book.   I really liked how Patience's past was slowly revealed as she gradually integrated herself into the community and lives of her new home.  It also fascinated me to learn how women survived (or didn't) in times from before.  A beautiful, intimate view into an era gone by.  Looking forward to the next book in the series.