by Gretchen Moran Laskas
This story is set in a secluded valley in the Appalacian mountains of West Virginia, during the 1930's. In a time when there were few conveniences, drugs were quackery viewed with suspicion, most everybody knew each other and was interrelated somehow. The main character, Elizabeth, is the daughter of a midwife. Her mother has trained her in the lore, but when Elizabeth learns that the midwives not only delivery babies but silently murder those born deformed or unwanted, she can't bear the thought of performing such acts. Especially since she's an illegitimate child herself.
I took The Midwife's Tale to my favorite, seldom-used reading spot: a nice, hot bath. And it failed me. I thought the story sounded intriguing, but the characters were not. The moment when Elizabeth discovered her mother's "red book" listing the names of murdered infants, and her inner struggle with the issue felt totally downplayed. The setting and details did not come alive for me- even the herbal lore, which I was curious about. And the love stories just seemed too silly. Elizabeth only wants one man, who's married to a foreign woman. Then she dies, so Elizabeth moves right in, marries the guy, raises his child. But he doesn't love her back... After seventy-five pages, I just couldn't read any more. It was so disappointing. There's another book I read several years ago placed in the same setting- and it was much better. When I can remember the title, I'll write about it here.
PS: there's only three days left to enter my blogiversary giveaway! The winner gets their pick from two different stacks of books, or four Book Mooch points. So go on over and leave a comment for a chance to win.
Abandoned ...0/5..... 243 pages, 2003