Thursday, September 28, 2006

Midwives by Chris Bohjalian

I’m like more than 10 years late on this one; it was a bestseller back when I was working at a bookstore in Amherst, and one of Oprah’s early picks. But Bohjalian’s name came up recently, and I thought, why not? There are simultaneous reasons why I should and should not have picked up this novel. I am working with midwives and planning a home birth, and while this novel does much justice and even celebrates or at least illuminates midwifery, it is at heart about a home birth gone horribly wrong and the trial following a mother’s death from an emergency C-section. But somehow the more gruesome or troubling aspects of the book didn’t get to me that much. Because really this is a mother-daughter story, narrated by Connie, the daughter of the midwife on trial. It’s also wonderfully evocative of Vermont, its intense snows and sloppy mud seasons. And it’s more nuanced than I expected. Overall an enjoyable read that I lapped right up.

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