The Midwife of Hope River

The Midwife of Hope River

4 (11,831 ratings by Goodreads)
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A remarkable new voice in American fiction enchants readers with a moving and uplifting novel that celebrates the miracle of life. In The Midwife of Hope River, first-time novelist Patricia Harmon transports us to poverty stricken Appalachia during the Great Depression years of the 1930s and introduces us to a truly unforgettable heroine. Patience Murphy, a midwife struggling against disease, poverty, and prejudice--and her own haunting past--is a strong and endearing character that fans of the books of Ami McKay and Diane Chamberlain will take into their hearts, as she courageously attempts to bring new light, and life, into an otherwise cruel world.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 382 pages
  • 139 x 203 x 25mm | 299g
  • New York, NY, United States
  • English
  • Original
  • 0062198890
  • 9780062198891
  • 624,901

Back cover copy

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.
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Review quote

..".will definitely renew your faith in love, loyalty, forgiveness, understanding and just plain HOPE."--Fran Lewis
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Rating details

11,831 ratings
4 out of 5 stars
5 30% (3,504)
4 46% (5,440)
3 20% (2,380)
2 3% (412)
1 1% (95)

Our customer reviews

The Midwife of Hope River is an engaging and touching novel of human frailties and triumphs. Patience Murphy inherits the role of the midwife of Hope River, a small rural community in West Virgina, when her mentor and friend, Mrs Kelly dies. Patience is no stranger to loss, orphaned at a young age she has since buried a fiance, a husband and a child. Mrs Kelly was her last link to her secret past and without her support Patience is apprehensive about managing on her own. The Midwife of Hope River is told in the first person detailing Patience's experiences delivering babies in the community against the everyday challenges of life in Hope River. It opens with a harrowing delivery for one of the town's wealthy, white residents expecting a stillbirth, only for the child to be born alive. While Patience is relieved, she questions her own ability to be a midwife with such little training and experience. However with Dr Blum, the county's white doctor refusing to provide care for any one who cannot afford his services and the 'negro' midwife, Mrs Potts elderly and infirm, Patience is the only resource for the majority of the women. The birth stories Patience shares are surprisingly riveting, not only for the circumstances of the delivery, but also for what is revealed about the individuals, families and the community. Slowly Patience is drawn into the fabric of Hope River, befriending Bitsy, a young black woman, who becomes her lodger, assistant and friend, and sparking a romance with the new vet, Dr Daniel Hester. While the characters in The Midwife of Hope River are fascinating, Harman sets her novel against a time period of significant social angst in America. The story references the coal miner union riots of the early 1920's, racial segregation and the activities of the Ku Klux Klan and the Wall Street market crash leading to the Great Depression in 1929. The small rural Appalachian community in West Virgina Patience lives in is affected by these larger issues despite it's insular nature. Patience is paid in firewood or flour, if at all, as the Depression worsens, a family passing through in search of work abandons a new baby they cannot afford to feed to Patience's care, a husband turns on his wife as his fortune dwindles and racist attitudes are inflamed. The Midwife of Hope River is a story of struggle, loss, love, survival and a celebration of life. A wonderful tale and an impressive fiction debut from Patricia Harman, herself a practicing midwife. I very much enjoyed this novel and happily recommend more
by Shelley Cusbert
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