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4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (246 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Paperback
  • ASIN: B001GVJBT8
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 13.2 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (246 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,717,485 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Tantilising 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
4.0 out of 5 stars What would you have done in Sibyl's place? 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent - a real find 11 Aug 2003
By A Customer
I thought this was a thought-provoking, exciting story - couldn't put it down. At the risk of sounding sexist, I was impressed that a man had written this. This is the first book I have read by this author and I am now about to search for his others.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Potential for a great story missed 25 Jan 1999
By A Customer
As soon as I saw the cover of Midwives I was hooked. Bohjalian hit on a great idea for a novel and was blessed with a cover (literally)to die for! It promised to be a real page-turner...
How wrong could I be? Here was the potential for a great story sadly missed. Yes, the book enabled Bohjalian to air some interesting arguements about the pros and cons of home birth but added nothing new; the conclusion does little more than reinforce prevailing attitudes and - contrary to the hype - all twists seemed well signposted along the way.
This story should have been full of suspense and drama - the situation demanded it but the writing couldn't deliver.
As for the coming of age angle, the feelings of a fourteen year-old girl through the cool, intelligent eyes of a middle age obstetrician just didn't work for me I'm afraid.
I liked the moody, muddy setting, and I did want to know what happened in the end - sort of. A reasonably good result I suppost but in the final analysis, just not good enough.
(And by the way, wearing whimsical hippy skirts is not a prerequisite of home birth ...)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I ate this book in one gulp! 28 Dec 2000
By A Customer
I could not put this book down (and my eyes showed it the next day). A very simple and straightforward story told from an interesting angle which kept me turning the pages. Circumstances often drive decisions and this book illustrates that beautifully.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Suprising! 26 Jun 2000
By A Customer
Yes, there are borng parts of this book but overall I found it quite fasinating and enjoyed it's layout with exerpts of Sybil's diary at the beginning of each chapter. I read half of the book, and wondered how on earth the author could find enough to write about for the second half. This is what got me through to the end but once I got there I realised I had really enjoyed it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It was OK 27 Aug 1999
By A Customer
I read this book...cover to cover, and I thought it was Ok. But I never really understood the ending. Oh well. I wouldn't recomend you buy this book. I would however reccomed that you get it from the library so you don't waste your money. Because i did skip through the boring parts. I might have fallen asleep if I hadn't. However everyones tastes are different. If you are interested in the subject of midwifery, which I am, then this would be a good book. I wish the area of Connie and Tom would have been more than just a time passer.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic Read!
Midwives - I absolutely loved this book. I had to look Sybil Danforth up on Google because I felt sure she was a real person, the whole story came over as if it had actually... Read more
Published on 14 Jun 2012 by Glossy
3.0 out of 5 stars Too much court room action
I enjoyed the central precept of this book - what if a midwife were to perform a ceasarian on a mother, thinking her dead at the time, but then discover that there may be some... Read more
Published on 8 Mar 2012 by DubaiReader
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
This book is amazing, it is impossible to put it down once you have started reading it. I read this over 18 months ago but still remember the story and the characters vividly and... Read more
Published on 29 Oct 2011 by Daniella
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fabulous Fable
A brilliant book. Delivered in that same cool, compelling New England tone that made 'The Secret History' such a page-turner, this novel tells the story of a midwife on trial for... Read more
Published on 20 Oct 2011 by Frootle
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
A brilliant book, Mr Bohjailin has really done his homework. The characters are very tenderly drawn, the scenes are beautifully described, the plot is absorbing and exciting : i... Read more
Published on 15 Sep 2010 by Snail
4.0 out of 5 stars Good holiday read
I thoroughly enjoyed this book as I bathed in the glorious Turkish sunshine. Had I read it at home I might have picked holes in some of the plot but being totally relaxed made me... Read more
Published on 3 Aug 2010 by S. Liveing
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most moving stories I can remember
Whilst this is fiction I believe the prejudice in America against "non qualified" midwives by the recognised medical profession is founded. Read more
Published on 15 May 2010 by LadyJ
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable but lacks an authenitc voice
I enjoyed this story and unlike others did not find it dull. I thought it well paced and although the reader knows at the beginning what happens (the mother's death in childbirth)... Read more
Published on 8 Nov 2009 by Julie Fisher
3.0 out of 5 stars Nowhere near 'To Kill A Mockingbird'
If you say something is akin to 'To Kill a Mockingbird' (which the cover of this did) then it had better be an awesome book, because you can't compare to that lightly. Read more
Published on 23 Oct 2009 by NB
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring!
Too long winded and poor narrative. It just kept going on and on. The first third was fabulous and I was so pleased I picked it up then once the trial started I simply lost... Read more
Published on 11 Sep 2007 by SJSmith
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