You know I love Pittsburgh something fierce. History was one of my majors, and American urban/labor/immigrant history interests me most. Give me Pittsburgh history, and I will nerd out. (Rick Sebak documentaries are my happy place.)
The book's protagonist, Patience Murphy, lived in Pittsburgh during the early Jazz Age, rubbing shoulders with the time's most famous artists and organizers. Parts of the story look back on Patience's life there and elsewhere, but most of it focuses on her life in rural West Virginia after the market crashes and the Depression begins.
Patience is not her real name. She left Pittsburgh after tragedy, and is starting anew in Appalachia. Her mentor is dead, and she is alone with memories of much loss. She misses the city and feels out of place in her new home (with her two dogs named after anarchists!) but carves out a crucial community role for herself as midwife.
If you are interested in midwifery or medicine, you will love this rare glimpse into what birthing was like eighty years ago. If that's not your bag, the book's many birthing scenes could prove a bit intense, but it's still fascinating. Harman provides an interesting look at best practices through a narrative lens, and it's cool to see the historical context for aspects of natural birth that aren't trendy but, in fact, traditional.
Racial tension, rugged rural life, healing, spirituality, and friendship are the other threads that weave throughout The Midwife of Hope River. The story and characters are compelling, and I highly recommend it, particularly if you appreciate americana and women's history.
Want to win a copy? Leave a comment with your own book recommendation, and I'll pick a winner at random at midnight on Wednesday, September 27. (If your name is Jen Luitwieler, imma send you my own copy, because methinks this is right up your alley:)
Review and giveaway copies provided by TLC Book Tours. Opinions mine, as per always. Amazon affiliate links. But you knew that:)