Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Reluctant Midwife: A Hope River Novel (Hope River #2) by Patricia Harman

The USA Today bestselling author of The Midwife of Hope River returns with a heartfelt sequel, a novel teeming with life and full of humor and warmth, one that celebrates the human spirit

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.

About The Author

Patricia Harman has spent over thirty years caring for women as a midwife, first as a lay-midwife, delivering babies in cabins and on communal farms in West Virginia, and later as a nurse-midwife in teaching hospitals and in a community hospital birthing center.
She spent over a decade in the sixties and seventies in her wild youth living in rural communes in Washington (Tolstoy Farm), Connecticut (The Committee for Non-Violent Action) and Minnesota (Free Folk). During the Vietnam years, she and her husband, Tom Harman, traveled the country, often hitch-hiking, as they looked for a place to settle. In 1974 they purchased a farm with a group of like-minded friends on top of a ridge in Roane County, West Virginia. Here on the commune, they built log houses, dug a pond, grew and preserved their own food and started the Growing Tree Natural Foods Cooperative.
It was during this time that Patsy attended her first home birth, more or less by accident. "Some people are destined," she has written. "I was staying at a woman friend's commune when she went into labor and I ended up delivering my first baby." Soon after, Harman traveled to Austin, Texas to train with a collective of home-birth midwives. When she returned, she became one of the founding members of The West Virginia Cooperative of Midwives. Her passion for caring for women and babies led her to become an RN as the first step in getting licensed as certified nurse midwife. In 1985, with her children, a yowling cat and her husband she traveled north, pulling a broken down trailer to begin her training at the University of Minnesota where she received her MSN in Nurse-Midwifery.
For the past twenty years, Ms. Harman has been a nurse-midwife on the faculty of The Ohio State University, Case Western Reserve University and most recently West Virginia University. In 1998 she went into private practice with her husband, Tom, an OB/Gyn, in Morgantown, West Virginia. Here they devoted their lives to caring for women and bringing babies into the world in a gentle way.
When, in 2003, the cost of liability insurance for Obstetrics sky-rocketed from $70,000 a year to $110,000, the Harman's decided to give up deliveries. Though many loyal patients grieved the loss of their favorite mid-wife/physician team, the change in life style gave the author time to begin writing her first book, The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife's Memoir.
Patricia Harman still lives and works with her husband, Ob/Gyn Thomas Harman, in Morgantown, West Virginia at their clinic, Partners in Women's Health Care. Though she no longer attends births, she provides care for women in early pregnancy and through-out the life span. She brings to this work the same dedication and compassion she brought to obstetrics."

My Review

This is a book that once you turn the first page, you will not be able to put down. We are transported the 1930’s in American, and back to West Virginia, the Great Depression. West Virginia is at 80% unemployment, and nurse Becky Meyers finds herself homeless and also the caretaker of her former boss Dr. Isaac Blum.
I felt myself walking in Becky’s shoes, looking at the bread lines, and having feelings of doubt as a baby is about to come into the world. I was holding to tooth brush as we brushed Dr. Blum’s teeth. I had a lot of admiration for this woman, and what a hard lot in life she had been given, but she rolled with the punches, and came out a winner.
We also walk in Dr. Blum’s shoes, and sometimes, we wish we didn’t, such pain he kept locked up in his silence. What a blessing Hestor is to him, and even if he is stoic he seems to respond silently to help.
I feel blessed to have never lived during the Great Depression, but the author has painted a picture of that time that will linger a long time with you. This is a book not to be missed!
I received this book through Edelweiss and William Morrow Paperbacks, and was not required to give a positive review.

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