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The Midwife of Hope River Paperback – 1 Feb 2013

4.4 out of 5 stars 92 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Corvus; Main edition (1 Feb. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857899511
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857899514
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 231,277 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

A beautifully imagined novel, a marvel of a debut, rich with fully realized characters and events. This is one I'll read again, more slowly next time. --Johanna Moran, author of The Wives of Henry Oades

The Midwife of Hope River is a rich and deeply moving book that will pleasantly linger in your thoughts long after you've finished reading it. Patricia Harman has created such a striking and original heroine that pregnant women everywhere will be wanting Patience Murphy to deliver their babies. --Theresa Brown, author of Critical Care: A New Nurse Faces Death, Life and Everything in Between, and New York Times Opinion Columnist

I learned, I laughed, I cried, but most of all I was deeply impressed by the artistry of the midwife and her central role in women's lives prior to the advent of commercialized, institutionalized medicine. This novel will live in my heart for years to come. --Amy Hill Hearth, author of Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society: A Novel

From the Back Cover

Midwife Patience Murphy has a gift: a talent for escorting mothers through the challenges of bringing children into the world. Working in the hardscrabble conditions of Appalachia during the Depression, Patience takes the jobs that no one else wants, helping those most in need and least likely to pay. She knows a successful midwifery practice must be built on a foundation of openness and trust but the secrets Patience is keeping are far too intimate and fragile for her to ever let anyone in.

Honest, moving, and beautifully detailed, Patricia Harman's The Midwife of Hope River rings with authenticity as Patience faces nearly insurmountable difficulties. From the dangerous mines of West Virginia to the terrifying attentions of the Ku Klux Klan, Patience must strive to bring new light and life into an otherwise hard world." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio Download
Patience Murphy, a midwife in Union County in West Virginia in the late 1920s, has a vital role to play in her community but owing to her past, she pretty much keeps herself to herself and doesn't connect with anyone beyond the professional level. Written in the first person narrative, in a conversational style (journal entries mostly), Patience often alludes to her life being a difficult one and to having to keep a low profile. Over the course of the book (covering roughly a year from autumn 1929 to autumn 1930), the reader learns more and more about past events and the shadows these have cast into Patience's life, and why she is the way she is.

The more fascinating passages to me, however, were the descriptions of the economic climate of the time, the rising tension, anxiety and desperation among people, the racist attitudes but also the way neighbours and community members looked out for one another and lent a helping hand where they could. This is the sort of historical fiction that makes history come alive for me.

I also happen to be a huge fan of the midwifery profession, having delivered two babies with the professional, competent and caring support of midwives, a doctor standing by merely as a formality. I loved reading the various birthing stories, good and bad, though sometimes the acute physical pain experienced by the fictional characters was so vividly described that I found myself breathing and panting through it as instructed by the midwife. Vicarious labour pains I'd rather not experience again. Thankfully, I haven't suffered the loss of any babies, born or unborn, or else this would have been a brutal book to read.
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By C. Colley TOP 500 REVIEWER on 14 Nov. 2012
Format: Paperback
Patricia Harman has spent over thirty years caring for women as a midwife. This debut novel draws upon Harman's real-life experiences to provide a fascinating story set during the Great Depression.
The story features midwife Patience Murphy and various characters from the surrounding coal mining communities. Patience narrates about her life as a midwife and the challenges she faced helping families during hard economic times. Along with the many tales of childbirth, Patience gradually reveals her own secrets and puts her eventful past to rest.

A novel that focuses a lot on childbirth would not usually appeal to me, but this story has more to offer. The birthing stories are fascinating and drive the story along, but it was Patience and her unique voice that captured my interest.
I liked the surrounding characters, the Appalachian setting and the way the story is told with an authentic historical backdrop. Patience is a captivating character and I was rooting for her all the way.
Overall, this novel is a steady and absorbing read. It ends with a nice feel of new beginnings.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
What a brilliant book ! I have loved and enjoyed the Call the Midwife series on TV and was intrigued to read this novel which is based on fact - as the author is a Community Midwife of long experience , in the USA .

Each chapter details the life of Patience , as she calls herself , and details deliveries in the Community of Hope River, both to the affluent and the poor Black communities in the locality, in the 1950's.
Patience is befriended by the local Vet and they share times together , Patience assisting in some animal deliveries and being able to adapt her skills to help out. It gives insight into the Klu Klux Klan influences , although not a much as I expected given the précis on the fly leaf .
It kept me interested and amused at times and was an easy to read semi-memoire.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Some authors have the knack of transporting you out of your hum-drum existence and of to places you've never before visited and people outside your experience. Ms Harmon effortlessly does this. Prepare to be transported to the depression and meet the townspeople in Hope River in the Appalachian mountains. Patience is a rarity, a woman who looks beyond the colour of a person's skin, making a living as a midwife and keeping her secrets close to her chest. Patience becomes part of the community without meaning to and makes her mark on the town and the people in it.

This book is faultless and fascinating. The characters were well develped reading this book was like stepping into the past. I didn't want it to end. I can imagine from the blurb on the back of the book, that the author has had an amazing life and would be a seriously interesting person to talk to.
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By Julia Flyte TOP 500 REVIEWER on 23 Oct. 2014
Format: Paperback
I have to say, this book has a terrible title and one of the worst covers I've ever seen, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

It's the (fictional) story of Patience Murphy, a woman who comes to rural West Virginia at the start of the Great Depression to work as a midwife. As we will learn over the course of the book, she is running from problems in her own life. The book is about her work as a midwife and the way that she integrates herself into the local community. Racial tensions and the impact of the depression are explored and you get a feel for life in that part of America at that time. The author - herself a retired midwife - gives a compelling portrayal of Patience's work and the babies that she delivers.

I would never have picked up this book if it hadn't been for reviews on Amazon, but it grabbed me from the first page and I really enjoyed reading it. I do think it was fractionally too long and that there were parts when Patience felt more like a modern day character than a woman living at that time, but overall I found it immensely readable from beginning to end. There is a tag on the front cover of the edition that I read which says "if you like The Help, you'll love this". They are quite different books and set in different times and places, but yes it has a similar relentless readability that at the same time teaches you about a way of life that has changed significantly.

There is a sequel of sorts in the works (centering on one of the lesser characters, Becky) due for release in 2015, and I look forward to reading that and hopefully also finding out more about what becomes of Patience.
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