Tuesday, February 06, 2018

The Reluctant Midwife by Patricia Harman

Becky Myers used to be a very busy surgical nurse and assistant in Dr. Isaac Blum's medical practice.  But some tragedies in the doctor's life have taken his ability to cope with life.  Somehow his care has landed squarely into Becky's lap.  Unable to continue his medical practice, Becky packs up what they have and heads to Hope River where the Doctor has a home.  She hopes the change of scenery will knock him out of his stupor.  But when they get there things have changed and Becky and the doctor find themselves homeless.  Looking up her old friend, Patience Murphy, the midwife of Hope River, she hopes that she can help her out.  Once settled into the midwife's old home, Becky's next step is to try to find a job.  But the depression has hit West Virginia hard and there are no jobs to be found.  What's left is to help Patience in her midwifery, but Becky has never been comfortable with the whole birth process and would rather deal with the sick.  When an opportunity comes her way to work as a nurse at the Civilian Conservation Corps camp, she nabs it thinking she can get away from helping birth babies.  But now Patience is pregnant and facing months of bed rest and it seems she still must reluctantly take on the delivering of babies.  Then new tragedy strikes and it will take all her skills and courage to get through it.

I did enjoy this 2nd installment to the Hope River novel.  One of the time periods I love reading about is the 1930's and the Depression and this book didn't disappoint in that regard.  The descriptions of life in those times was very good and I can't imagine what it must have been like for 40% of people to be out of work and then the dust and fire storms wreaking havoc on top of it all.  The Civilian Conservation Corps was a real program developed by then president, Roosevelt to revive the rural economies. It "employed" thousands in several states and was a way for the men to get money sent to their families while it gave them meals and room and board. It was interesting reading how a nurse would cope with a huge crew of all men and the issues that that would bring along in those times.  Though at times I felt there were a  few coarse descriptions of some of the medical stuff.  The Facts page at the back of the book was very interesting concerning this "tree army".

Though Betsy was a reluctant midwife in the story I think, if memory serves correctly, there wasn't quite as many "delivery" stories as the first book. I  loved the author's character development in both the main characters and some of the secondary and side characters as well.  They gave a real understanding to the things that might have been going on in people's lives during that time.  And Betsy having to face her fears of midwifery because she had to was good as well.   Dr. Blum with his mental health issue was especially interesting to me, along with aggravating at times, and yet how he developed down through the story was fascinating to me.   I liked that Patience from the first book was back in the story but didn't override the introduction of Betsy and yet didn't fade away either.  The author balanced the two of them very well. 

I rated this one 8/10


Faith said...

I love that time period too!!

Michele Morin said...

Wow, a reluctant midwife.
I can only just imagine how that would feel. Sounds like such a great premise for a novel!