The Midwife of Hope River is a wonderful story about Patience’s life as a midwife and the hardships she endured during the 1930’s in Hope River, West Virginia, amidst the depression, segregation and racism, and the dangerous coal mines.
Midwifery does not pay a lot, but Patience loves her work nevertheless. Her job also requires a lot of skill and tact when it comes to dealing with the new mothers and their families, who tend to be pushy. She handles it all all stride. Patience makes it her goal to see women of color – even when they cannot pay – because the one doctor in town refuses to treat them. In her line of work, the trust of the women and their families is of the utmost importance. And as she gains the town’s trust, she is approached by many different families to assist them when it comes to labor and delivery. Sometimes she has time to prepare and other times she’s lucky just to arrive in time for the delivery.
Patience trained as a midwife with her good friend Mrs. Kelly and has since moved to Hope River to hide from her past. Throughout the story we are given glimpses into Patience’s history and her own heartache and loss; we are able to see Patience grow into her role as a midwife and learn to love again. While at Hope River, Patience befriends Bitsy who becomes not only her friend but also her apprentice in midwifery. Together they face the challenge of helping the mothers through delivery and ensuring that everything is as sterile as it can be. With each delivery, we are able to see how far midwifery has come through the years.
As I read The Midwife of Hope River, I wanted to congratulate Patricia Harman on writing this story and giving us a glimpse into midwifery during the 1930’s. I could easily tell that this subject was near and dear to her heart. I can’t begin to imagine what it must have been like for Patience to deliver babies in homes without electricity or running water, but she was still able to keep things relatively sterile in order to prevent infection. I enjoyed reading this story and felt each joy and heartache along with Patience.
Amanda loves spending time at home with her husband and their dog, Oreo. She loves reading, playing puzzle games, beading and watching movies. When she’s not reading, she’s working on her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing.
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