Monday, September 21, 2009


Midwives Midwives by Chris Bohjalian

Book 32 of 50 for the New Author Challenge

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow! An Oprah book I actually liked! This book was my in-person book club's pick for this month. I think it was a great choice and we'll have lots to discuss.

This fiction book is set in Vermont in the early-1980s and is centered around a fateful March evening when a laboring woman dies during childbirth at home. Circumstances conspired against the midwife, Sibyl Danforth, as the roads were impassable and the phone lines were dead, making an emergency trip to the hospital impossible. The State puts Sibyl on trial because they believe the mother wasn't actually dead before Sibyl decided to attempt a C-section to save the baby.

At the beginning of each chapter, we get a snippet from the personal diary of Sibyl, penned during the events in the story. But, the main chunk of the book is told from the perspective of Sibyl's daughter, Connie, who was a teenager at the time of the trial. Because Connie writes the novel when she is in her 30s, I did find the jumping back and forth in time to be a little confusing. But I found Connie to be as impartial a narrator as she could have been, and I enjoyed that the story was told in her voice.

One thing that I really liked about this book is that I didn't feel the author advocated or rejected the idea of home birth. I felt like the arguments representing both sides were presented fairly, and there was good food for thought. The courtroom drama was especially interesting to read, and reminded me of Jodi Picoult's books in the way the ethical dilemma had me guessing and questioning what the ultimate outcome would be.

An enjoyable read that I think would be especially good to read during the colder months of the year!

Also reviewed by:
Have I missed your review? Did you read this one in your pre-blogging days? What did you think?

Source: Purchased


Veens said...

Wow! This one sounds really good... I have never read anything about Midwives and the trials like these!

Molly said...

I was not familiar with this title, but I loved your review. I will definitely have to check it out.

bermudaonion said...

Boy, does that sound good. It sounds like you'll have lots to talk about at book club.

Emilia said...

I made the mistake of reading this book and several others about childbirth gone wrong when I was pregnant with Nathaniel. Great book. Bad timing.

Anna said...

I read this one ages ago, and I remember enjoying it.

Diary of an Eccentric

heatherlo said...

I read Midwives pre-blogging and really enjoyed it. In fact, I've liked all of Bohjalian's books (the ones I've read, anyway) and I think he's an awesome writer and storyteller. I'd recommend Trans-Sister Radio if you are interestd in another one by him - the book is another one of those "controversial issues" type books. But it's really intriguing. :) Great review!

writemeg said...

I'm long overdue for checking out Jodi Picoult, and I just might have to put this book in my stack, too! I love books that really make me question where I stand on an issue -- especially if I once thought I had a very strong opinion on it! If a novel can make me truly see another perspective for the first time, I consider it a win. Great review!

Belle said...

This sounds like an interesting read. What a challenging situation for a midwife!

crystalgrant84 said...

love this book, and many others by the author. the author is actually from my hometown!

Callista said...

Thanks for linking to my review. I linked to yours too. I highly recommend this book to others.