The Great Depression has hit West Virginia hard. Men are out of work; women struggle to feed hungry children. Luckily, Nurse Becky Myers has returned to care for them. While she can handle most situations, Becky is still uneasy helping women deliver their babies. For these mothers-to-be, she relies on an experienced midwife, her dear friend Patience Murphy.
Though she is happy to be back in Hope River, time and experience have tempered Becky’s cheerfulness-as tragedy has destroyed the vibrant spirit of her former employer Dr Isaac Blum, who has accompanied her. Patience too has changed. Married and expecting a baby herself, she is relying on Becky to keep the mothers of Hope River safe.
But becoming a midwife and ushering precious new life into the world is not Becky’s only challenge. Her skills and courage will be tested when a calamitous forest fire blazes through a Civilian Conservation Corps camp. And she must find a way to bring Isaac back to life and rediscover the hope they both need to go on.
Full of humor and compassion, The Reluctant Midwife is a moving tribute to the power of optimism and love to overcome the most trying circumstances and times, and is sure to please fans of the poignant Call the Midwife series. – Goodreads
I’m always very, very hesitant when a book’s description boasts that fans of Whatever Book or This Show will love it—kind of like when a book’s description says a mixture of This Popular Book and That Popular Book. What can I say? I’m a skeptic.
I’m a huge Call the Midwife fan. (Hint: it’s on Netflix, folks!). So when I read the description for The Reluctant Midwife, I laughed. Just because it says ‘midwife’ in the title doesn’t mean it’s going to satisfy my need while I wait for the next season to show up on Netflix, I thought.
Well, kudos to whomever included that in the description, because it definitely hit the spot.
Disclaimer: I did not read the first book in the Hope River series. I wanted to see how this particular book fared by itself. I’m pleased to say that if you would rather just read this one, you don’t need to read the first to understand what is going on. That being said, I can definitely see how reading the first one would help the reader understand various characters’ backgrounds. I plan on going back and reading the first.
Speaking of characters, I loved them. Betsy is an incredibly real protagonist, who has very real, raw emotions while dealing with Dr. Blum (who, in the wake of his wife’s death, has become catatonic), her new impoverished situation, and figuring out who she wants to be. She experiences plenty of anger, gratitude, happiness, and frustration to make her a very relatable character.
Patience, the midwife, is incredibly sweet and loving, and she’s the primary reason I’ll be reading the first book (she’s the star of that one). Her husband is cool, her son is adorable…I loved them. Even minor characters, like the grocer or the woman on the outskirts of town who Becky delivers groceries to, are important and multi-dimensional.
I found the labor scenes simultaneously horrifying and page-turning. Whether the baby was blue, the mother was shrieking, or the midwives had to do something to keep mother or baby alive, I was transfixed. Naturally, I picture Becky as Jenny Lee aka Jessica Raine (but with an American accent, of course). The imagery is vivid—you can almost hear the grunts, moans, and pain of the women involved.
I did have one gripe: it was very long, with quite a few dull parts in between. Those bits are slow and hard to read. I suppose that’s how life is, though. It’s not always exciting. The book definitely read more like a diary than a novel. Rather than the entries being split up by date, they were broken into small subheads.
Overall, I loved this book and would definitely recommend it to those who are interested in historical fiction based in the 20’s and/or midwifery. I rated it a 4/5 on Goodreads.
I was given a free copy of The Reluctant Midwife by TLC Book Tours and William Morrow & Company in exchange for an honest review. The Reluctant Midwife is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound. Learn more about Patricia Harman on her website, Twitter, or Facebook. Check out the other TLC Book Tour Hosts for The Reluctant Midwife here.