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on 10 June 2017
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VINE VOICEon 6 October 2007
I thoroughly enjoyed this, a warm story wrapped in an historical blanket.
The descriptions were excellent and I found myself there with Dora through her struggles and successes. The book is very evocative of the battles women faced to make their own choices and of a life of hard work lived in an isolated community.

Dora Rare, a bit of a loner amongst her peers, is chosen by the local elderly midwife to train in the arts of midwifery and herbal remedies. Unfortunately this natural succession is interrupted by the arrival of a new age doctor, advocating pain free births in the new modern hospital. It seems he has the law on his side and home births become 'outdated'. As the women fight for their right to choose, this battle becomes symbolic of all the things in their lives that are decided for them.
Alongside this central theme are woven details of several events that occurred at the time: the Halifax bomb, the Boston flu of 1918, the first world war and the struggles of the suffragettes.

Well researched and well written, I thoroughly recommend this book.
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on 2 September 2006
I couldn't put it down. The story is gripping and endearing. It was empowering in that it spoke of woman's rights at a birth of their choosing. It was encouraging, with wonderful references to the midwifery of old. Well written, well researched. I enjoyed the historical references eg. Halifax bomb, Boston flu of 1918, as well as the herbal and homeopathic remedies listed (although i've not cross-referenced these, given the great amount of research obviously done for this book I wouldn't be suprised if modern herbalist still list the same for childbirth). As a student midwife who has visited Nova Scotia I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to all who want to have a good read!
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on 21 October 2007
I am a sucker for stories about midwifery, so when I bought this book for a friend I could not resist taking a peek inside the covers. Before I knew it I was a thrid of the way through, and knew that my friend would have to wait until I had finished before I would hand it over to her.

The characters are well written, with enough depth to enable you to love or hate them. The plot is gentle but moves along nicely so kept my interest. I like the fact that historical events play key roles in the story. Some of the descriptive passages are very powerful. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for more books by Ami McKay.
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on 19 May 2007
I was in Canada recently working viewing midwifery there and was given this book by the lady who owns the b&b we stayed in!!! Wow what a faboulous book i really enjoyed reading it and was delighted i have read it and read it again so enjoyable.
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This novel captured me from the beginning. I have read a few books set in Canada lately and this one especially brings home the bleakness of the fishing village of Scots Bay. The historical detail is very well researched, including the Halifax eplosion and the influenza epidemic. There are some really funny episodes throughout the book, although it is not a 'funny book' - it is very touching and honest and makes you realise how strong these fishing wives were during the First World War.

It is a love story, a story of women's rights, a historical account and a story of hardships and friendships. About women battling to overcome the discrimination and suspicions directed at them for daring to be different and to speak out for their beliefs.
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on 25 January 2012
You can also read my reviews here: [...]

As with Water for Elephants, this book sat on my 'to-read' list way too long. After finally picking it up from the library, I almost returned it without reading because it just didn't appeal to me. However, I am so happy that I opted to read rather than return.

I loved how the author, Ami McKay, wrote this story. It amazes me to think that the story actually takes place in the early 1900's and during WWI. Other than when the story actually mentioned the war or the fact that there wasn't electricity, you wouldn't have known that it wasn't a modern day story.

Also, I really enjoyed reading about midwifery. I chose to have a 'modern' birth when I had my son (ie. hospital with doctors) but have heard of so many wonderful stories of the 'midwife experience'. By the end of The Birth House, midwifes were becoming extinct and doctors becoming the way of the world... nowadays, it seems as if things are moving back in the other direction as more and more people chose to use a midwife over a doctor for their birthing experience. If only the people of Scots Bay knew this, it would have saved so much trouble

Overall, The Birth House was a wonderful debut novel by a Canadian author. It is a must-read for anyone who enjoys a story about a mother struggle to choose between what everyone says is right and what she feels is right in her heart
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on 16 December 2013
Im a big fan of the old remedies and teas that women used before scientific medicines took over.There must have been some truth in the stories. many women and children survived the impossible with using natural home grown remedies.it's a lovely heart warming , informative , thought provoking read.makes you value the importance of friendships and the bonding that takes place with generations and communities of females that make us rich within ourselves. I would recommend this novel to all females .
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on 23 February 2013
Set in the early part of the twentieth century in a small village in Nova Scotia when the outbreak of the first world war is not very far away. Dora Rare is 17 and learning the ancient secrets of midwifery from the town's resident midwife, Miss Babineau.

Miss Babineau, old and wizened, is the wise woman of times gone by. There won't be any more like her, and her knowledge is a dying art. In learning from her, Dora is isolated from her peers and viewed with suspicion as 'a witch'- that is, of course, until her help is needed with childbirth.

During the course of the story, a Doctor opens a maternity clinic in a nearby town. Tradtional midwives are told that they are breaking the law and that mothers-to -be must consult with qualified doctors. The village becomes divided, those for the doctor, those for the midwife - and somewhere in the middle, amongst the twists and turns, Dora becomes less isolated and embraced by the community.

Ths is a heartwarming story about a small Canadian community that is also very informative on aspects of traditional midwifery. I enjoyed the excursion into the past and feel the regret, that I think the author also feels, at the loss of all that herbal knowledge that was the repository of the wise women of the village. .
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on 1 February 2011
What a fascinating insight into the lives of women in remote fishing communities in Canada at a time when cultures were being impacted by war. I learned some more about Canadian history that was very new to me. This is a great book for women. I am not so sure that men would find it as engaging.
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