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Midwives Paperback – 3 Sep 2009


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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books (3 Sep 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184739339X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847393395
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.9 x 2.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (247 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 50,299 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Midwives, Chris Bohjalian's fifth novel, is the story of Sibyl Danforth, a lay midwife in rural Vermont, and her daughter, Connie. The nexus of this cautionary tale is an emergency Caesarean section Sibyl performs during a home birth that goes disastrously wrong. Believing the mother is already dead from a stroke, Sibyl operates and later finds herself on trial for killing the woman. The compelling story of her trial and its aftermath comes to us from Connie, who believes "this is my story, too." In fact, Connie's reaction to her mother's ordeal is to go to medical school and become an obstetrician. The book raises provocative issues about medical ethics and the limits of risk. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Chris Bohjalian is the critically acclaimed author of 11 novels, including Skeletons at the Feast and his most recent New York Times bestseller, The Double Bind, published by Pocket Books. His work has been translated into eighteen languages and published in twenty-one countries. He lives in Vermont with his wife and daughter.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 30 Dec 2002
Format: Paperback
This beautifully crafted novel is set in 1981 when a midwife, leading an otherwise uncomplicated and simple life with her husband and daughter in rural Vermont, is thrust into a legal, moral, political, and ethical nightmare. It evolves around a split second decision made in a life and death situation and the aftermath of that decision.
An experienced and respected midwife, Sibyl Danforth, attends a woman during a home birth. When she realizes that dangerous complications have set in, she tries to call for help in vain, as a severe ice storm has knocked out the phone lines. An attempt to drive the expectant mother to a hospital only results in the car being wedged into an icy snowbank, as travel conditions were impossible.
Trapped in this isolated home with a physically fragile, expectant mother in the throes of a labor that will not bear fruit, Sybil struggles to do the best that she can. Unfortunately, her best is just not good enough, given the complications that had set in, and the expectant mother appears to succumb to the ravages of a laborious childbirth.
Under the belief that the expectant mother had died, Sibyl performs an emergency caesarean section in an effort to save the unborn child. She successfully does so, presenting the stricken husband with an infant son. Yet, the next day, her assistant, Anne, who had been present throughout the ordeal, denounces Sibyl to the authorities, claiming that the expectant mother had, in fact, been alive, when Sibyl had commenced the caesarean. Consequently, Sibyl is charged with manslaughter, and the political winds blown by the traditional medical establishment, as well as that of the legal system, threaten to tear asunder all that she holds dear.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dr. J. S. E. Sullivan-lyons on 8 Nov 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One of the best books I have read in years. Gripping throughout, accessible, and well written. reasonably short, so you do not need to invest a month of your life finding out what happens. Unexpected ending, but perfect. Read and enjoy!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By I LOVE BOOKS on 12 Jun 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very entertaining book, speaking of a series of difficult decisions to be taken in a split second and against a further series of negative circumstances surrounding the problematic birth of a baby, delivered by an experienced midwife during a snowy night in rural Vermont. When things deteriorate, Sibyl, the midwife, has to take a crucial decision which will then lead to a lawsuit.

This book certainly makes you think about how everything can go wrong if adverse fate interferes, but not only. It also gives rise to a crucial question regarding the choice between childbirth taking place in the serenity of a home or at a hospital, where everything would be "colder" but most risks could be kept at bay.

With all due respect, I must admit I was really impressed that the author of this book is a male, as everything is recounted with such feminine accuracy. Well done, truly well done. A book to be remembered. I still do and I've read it at least five years ago!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 Feb 1999
Format: Paperback
"I used the word vulva as a child the way some kids said butt or penis or puke...it had an edge that could stop adults cold in their tracks." These are the first few lines from Chris Bohjalian's novel Midwives. Bohjalian's writing has the ability to stun the readers (as these lines did) and create vivid images with extraordinary description and ingenious wording. Using his gift of writing, Chris Bohjalian transforms a fictional world into a dramatic tale of justice and the unexplored world of midwifery.
After reading the first few chapters, the reader understands the basic background of the story, but the actual theme of the novel does not clearly surface until mid-way through the book. Through the eyes of a midwife's daughter, Bohjalian conveys the personal experiences of midwifery and of the court system. Using the daughter (Connie Danforth) as a guide, the author demonstrates the prejudice unorthodoxy faces and the non-equality of justice.
To succeed in putting the reader on a personal level with Connie and Sibyl (the midwife on trial) Danforth, Bohjalian uses "real-life" facts, experiences, and truth in his fiction. Midwives, attorneys, and investigators were all used by Bohjalian to help make his novel a truthful fiction. Through his work, it is apparent that he asked many questions and reflected the answers in his novel.
Straightforward yet eloquent passages fill the fiction. Bohjalian's book is superbly written, as the passages flow from the book into the reader's imagination. The book is well argued and the author clearly articulates the questions and answers raised in the novel. As a result of Bohjalian's unusual point of view and captivating narrative, his points and themes come across to the reader in streams of clarity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 Jan 1999
Format: Paperback
On the chilly winter night of March 15, 1981, not even the most experienced driver was able to go onto the roads, and in a small house near the Vermont/Canadian border, something terrible was about to happen. Charlotte and Asa Bedford were going to have their second child that night, as home, with midwive Sibyl Danforth and her assistana Anne Austin. When Sibyl finally concludes that Chrolette has died from a stroke during her labor, she screams for Asa and Anne to bring her "the sharpest knife in the house." Remarkably enuogh, the baby lives through the emergency C-section performed by Sibyl, who has had no medical training. It wasn't until after the baby had been delivered and everyone in their own homes, that the question started to arise...was Charolette really dead when Sibyl performed the operation? The story is told my Sibyl's now grown daughter Connie, who was only 13 when her mother was tried for the murder of Charolette Bedford. Chris Bohjalian brings any reader of "Midwives: A Novel" into the story and makes them feel like they're living the life of one of the characters. Although not appropriate for all readers, this suspenseful novel will keep anyone who decides to read the book, up late at night until the last page of the book is read. I would recommend this book to anyone who is a dedicated reader and is 14 or older. Even thugh the point of some things is hard to understand, "Midwives" takes the reader into a place where they feel like they were actually in the room when the C-section was performed, and also in the courtroom when Sibyl was tried. As you read the book, you learn tom grow with the characters as they go through what it's like to experience the aftermath and process of life and death.
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