Thursday, March 3, 2016

Book Review: The Secrets of Midwives

Three generations of midwives are the central focus of The Secrets of Midwives
by Sally Hepworth. Neva, the 20-something midwife, who works in a hospital birthing center helping women give birth without the coldness of a doctor present.  Her mother, Grace, is also a midwife, but more of the traditional variety, working in the homes of her patients.  Floss is the mother of Grace, grandmother of Neva, and is an 83-year-old midwife who has long since retired.  I found this an interesting occupation to thread through three generations, but for this story it worked.

Each chapter is labeled with a character's name and is told in their voice.  This was an interesting aspect to the telling of this story, but honestly at some points I had to flip back to the beginning of a chapter to remember who was talking.  Chalk that up to such intertwined lives and occupations....and all three bearing some secret...and it got confusing at times. 

Not long after the story begins, we find out Neva is expecting, which is a nice touch to a story about women who help expectant mothers.  You learn the emotional and personal side of Neva and the secret she carries.  Her relationship with her mother, Grace, is different.  Neva refers to her as "Grace" most of the time.  It's clear Neva is more drawn to her grandmother, Floss.  

As the story unfolds, you follow the history of Floss' life and begin to uncover her secret.  Grace has a secret of her own that occurs about mid-story, but definitely the power of the story is from the bookends of Neva and Floss.  I can't say I was endeared to any specific character in the story.  Many times I like to identify with a character, but in this story the only one I came close to was Neva.  But, some of the actions of her character wore me out, and maybe didn't seem realistic.  I wanted more depth in Floss.  Her secret, and story, is rich, but is told very factually.  I could say the same about Grace, but her story line is minor in comparison to the other two.  Maybe all that was intentional by the author.  Midwives surely need to possess a certain stoicism to perform their duties and that clearly falls over into their personal lives.  

I'd give this book 3.5 stars. I would have liked more depth and maybe something for me to ponder when the book is done.  I read for enjoyment, but like stories and endings that leave me reflecting on some question from the book or topic, unless it's from the cozy mystery genre, where those books are simply tied up in a bow like a Murder, She Wrote episode.  But, it was an enjoyable, easy read.  

No comments:

Post a Comment