This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Reviewed by Jennifer Joyce
Though only in her mid thirties, Patience Murphy has endured enough drama to span several lifetimes. Originally named Elizabeth Snyder, Patience has changed her name and hidden her past to protect herself. Her mentor and best friend, Mrs Kelly, has died and now Patience is alone, working as a midwife in Liberty, a small town in West Virginia, and the surrounding area. Nobody knows about her past and Patience, wanting to keep her old alias buried, doesn’t allow herself to become close to anybody and lives in constant fear that she will be found out. Mrs Kelly was Patience’s only friend for a long time and so Patience puts up Bitsy Proudfoot when her employer can no longer afford to keep her on. She teaches young Bitsy about midwifery while Bitsy teaches Patience about gardening, hunting and fishing. Soon the two women form a bond and a strong relationship.
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Set in 1929/30, just after the Wall St crash and the ensuing Depression, Patience struggles through poverty as she helps the women around her deliver their babies. Many cannot afford to pay Patience for her services, but she doesn’t turn any of them away.
I really enjoyed The Midwife of Hope River and found the accounts of the births fascinating. Some births were complicated while others were straightforward, some joyous and others tragic. I learned a lot about how women gave birth before the arrival of the medical advances we take for granted now. Patience wasn’t an educated woman, but she had a broad knowledge when it came to labour and birth. All the births in The Midwife of Hope River take place at home without a doctor present and with very little equipment.
In the beginning, Patience is very much alone, but through the course of the book she begins to form friendships within the town, particularly with Daniel Hestor, the local vet, as well as Bitsy. Patience is quite isolated until Bitsy is practically thrust upon her and I loved how the two women – both independent in their own ways – came to depend on each other. I was so engrossed in Patience’s story that I wanted it to continue so I could find out what would happen next in her eventful and often turbulent life.
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