Mar 13, 2008

Midwives

by Chris Bohjalian

Connie, the daughter of a midwife, tells the story of her mother's murder trial. During a difficult delivery on a freezing winter night in an isolated farmhouse, Sibyl made a desperate decision to save the baby's life, when she thought the mother had died of a sudden stroke. But what if she'd been wrong? Through Connie's eyes we see Sibyl struggle to keep her life from unraveling under the ensuing onslaught of hostility from traditional doctors, men of the law, neighbors and friends alike. Supported by other midwives and her family, Sibyl stands by her decision and defends her occupation, even as she is plagued with disapproval and her own doubt and guilt. Like many Jodi Picoult novels, Midwives deals with a very controversial issue and winds up in a courtroom. It seemed a bit sensationalized and the characters were rather flat, but I enjoyed it nevertheless. However, I felt quite dubious about the daughter's final role.

This book has some themes in common with The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, on the subject of traditional versus alternative medicine. It's not as good a book, but interesting to think about in the same context.

Rating: 3/5 ........ Published: 1997, pp 372

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7 comments:

Nymeth said...

It's too bad about the flat characters, but the topic does sound interesting.

Maw Books said...

I read this book a few years ago. I think it was the first Oprah book club selection that I read. I remember that I really enjoyed the story and thought it was an interesting read.

verbivore said...

Sounds interesting, a very heated subject. I'd be curious to see what I thought as well. You mentioned flat characters, did you feel it was overall well written?

Jeane said...

Nymeth- yes, it's very interesting

Maw Books- I found it pretty good for an Oprah book. I don't read many of them anymore.

Verbivore- Sometimes the obvious was overstated, and there was not much depth or development to the characters. It was a moving story, but more like reading a news report than a novel, at times.

Juli said...

This was out first ever book club book! It was a good choice. I have The Spirit Catches You... on my TBR pile.

I had forgotten the daughter's "final role" until you mentioned it.

Nyssaneala said...

I see this book everywhere, and the title first caught my interest because I had a midwife-assisted birth.

I loved The Spirit Catches You and you fall down...but Midwives is fiction, or am I wrong?

Jeane said...

Nyssaneala- Yes, this is fiction. So perhaps it isn't fair to compare the two...