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The Midwife of Hope River

A Novel of an American Midwife
Narrated by: Anne Wittman
Series: Hope River, Book 1
Length: 12 hrs and 4 mins
Categories: Fiction, Historical
4.5 out of 5 stars (192 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2012 Patricia Harman (P)2013 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Debbie
  • Toney, Alabama
  • 03-06-19

Coal Mines, The Depression, and Lots of Babies

West Virginia is not a fun and fanciful place in 1929 in the middle of the depression, where an already hard scrabble existence is the norm. Where coal miners, farmers and both blacks and whites try to eke out a living. The midwife, Patience Murphy with a closet full of secrets is an outsider, keeping to herself, not allowing anyone into her private life. Little by little she is accepted by the rural residents of Hope River who rely on her to tend to their births and even some of their health needs, as the cost of medical care is beyond their reach. Working for little or no pay, Patience delivers babies, black and white, and is happy to be rewarded with a chicken or side of bacon after a birth. There is a beauty and unique truthfulness to Patricia Harman’s writing, which some may find off putting. But not me. When we are young, we aren’t always wise. We do impulsive things. We think with our hearts. When Patience fled to West Virginia, she carried with her secrets, pain . . . and the memories of loves and loss so deep that she dared not disclose. She was ahead of her time in race relations and the fight for battered women. I don’t agree with her stance of same sex relationships, but do agree with her loving her two friends who were in that relationship. Love covers a multitude of sins. My heart broke that Patience didn’t have the courage to follow the Lord anymore, but time and time again, she tried to pray, sang hymns and cried out to God. Who of us have not been those same shoes? The author deals with loss in a way that is honest and hits you right where you live. Patience’s relationships with her friend, Bitsy, Mrs. Potts, the old black midwife, and Dr. Hester, the veterinarian were described in heart wrenching detail, making the story rich and vibrant. The ending was superb. If a person can’t appreciate that we live in a much different America now, something is lacking in their cold heart.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Daryl
  • Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • 10-07-16

Beautiful and Moving

I enjoyed this book immensely. Years ago, I read Patsy harman's memoir "The Blue Cotton Gown" and was thrilled to read her novels. Midwifery, the Great Depression, and Apalachea have all fascinated me, so putting them together was like a dream book.
The plot moves along slowly, as the seasons change, so I realize not all will like this style. But the author's descriptions of the land, the weather, the people were somehow comforting, even in moments of great sadness and despair.
The narrator was amazing. I felt like I had a warm voice telling me the story. At points you could even hear her smile. The only drawback to her performance is the fact that she didn't sing at all, even the well-known Christmas carols or other tunes. When the characters sang, she orated poetically, but something was lost in the performance because of this.
Overall, this book was well worth my time and credit.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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One of my favorites!

This is one of my all-time favorite books and series, and Patience Murphy is one of my all-time favorite characters. I love that this story is set in Union County, West Virginia during the Depression. Since Patience is the local midwife, she is able to give us an up-close and personal view of this area during this time. After all, every socioeconomic group has babies. Patience is called into each different type of neighborhood to deliver babies and we are able to see that the poor economy of that time had its way with every social group, although some far more than others. I found that I was very interested in what the people paid (or did not/could not pay) for the midwifery services OR what they traded in lieu of payment. I also love the details of each delivery. As a Labor and Delivery nurse myself, it is so cool to be able to visualize these births and to realize that women have been delivering babies in basically the same way for ages - normally and with the same types of complications - only the technology has changed.

I'll listen to this one over and over in the future, I'm sure of it. I would recommend it to those who have an interest in Depression-era Appalachian history and those who are interested in midwifery. Totally worth a credit.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A very enjoyable book to read or listen to!!

I read this book a while back and my mom and my sister read it and each and everyone of us enjoyed it thoroughly! Then when I saw that there was an audible book out about it, I was very anxious to listen it! I was very pleased with narration and look forward to the next book. It is a book that keeps your interest right from the start. Well it's over now and time to start the next book, and I'm sure it will be as good as the last one. Thank you Patricia Harman!!! Keep up the good work

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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LOVED THIS BOOK

As a doula for 40 years, I was excited to read a book about a midwife by a midwife. The births were very realistic & such a variety, that made everything flow so much better for me. :-)

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Amazing

Amazing book about a woman's journey and race relations during the depression. A must read for women's health providers.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • KT
  • 08-19-19

Reminiscent of Catherine Marshall

Loved this book! The Appalachia references and mannerisms bring the story of 'Christy' to mind. Definitely enjoyed the midwife stories, intermixed with the depression era realities of prohibition, coal union politics,and integration. The intertwining of past with present throughout the story was handled innovatively and well. Would definitely recommend to a friend.

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Tender, Moving, Beautiful, Hard

This story was beautifully written and full of emotion. True grit and beauty wrapped all up in one. A nice period drama that will move you along like a river, rapids one moment and still reflection the next. The narration was lovely. I enjoyed listening to this little gem.

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Almost a poem

Beautifully written story that shares characters like opening a special gift. The author paints with words and the listener is there..in 1929 in a West Virginia small mountain town. The performance is excellent at capturing emotions..just wish the songs were sung and not read.. but that is a small matter. Many difficult subjects like childbirth, racism and poverty are portrayed with dignity, reality, and honestly. Just a good read, hated it when it ended.

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Rich imagry and story.

I too am an author and appreciate a beautifully described and paced novel. The characters and plot are rich. I'm a nurse and wrote "Labor and Delivery In My Pocket - An Emergency Reference." If you like midwifery you'll love this novel. I can't wait to listen to the rest of this series.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful