As summer draws to a close, each day becoming a little bit shorter and the nights just a little bit cooler, many of us are remembering recent fun summer events, vacations, and relaxing times with families and friends. Labor Day is looming next weekend, offering a long weekend for many of us and a last taste of summer for a while. I always feel that the Labor Day holiday weekend is the closing bookend of summer, as my family’s attention and energy turn to school, sports and all that fall brings. As I say good bye to the “lazy” days of summer, reading a good book on the deck with a cold drink, I thought our “family” here on Science & Sensibility could participate in a Virtual Book Club, and maybe enjoy some of the long weekend by digging into a captivating new novel about midwives and birth by exploring Patricia Harman’s just released book, “The Midwife of Hope River.”
Patricia Harman is a certified nurse midwife who lives in Morgantown, West Virginia where she works with her OB/Gyn husband, Tom Harman to provide woman centered care at all stages of a woman’s life as well as prenatal care to women in the early stages of pregnancy. The Harmans stopped catching babies in 2003, and Patricia decided that she would use some of her “free” time to do some writing. Her first book, The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife’s Memoir, shared the stories of her midwifery patients, who came from all walks of life, to sit in her office, offering their intimate stories of challenge, laced with her own personal struggles with her health, the task of running a business and the stress it placed on relationships with those she loves.
In Patricia’s second non-fiction work, Arms Wide Open: A Midwife’s Journey, the prequel to her first book, readers are offered insight into the journey that Patricia Harman took to become a midwife. We read about her first exposure to helping women birth their babies, her exploration into living a life more in line with nature, community and supporting causes in line with her philosophy and her heart during a turbulent period of time in America’s history. Patricia shares how she, along with other women, stretched their wings and stood up for what they believed in, even if it veered from the mainstream culture and norms of the time.
I am delighted to announce that Patricia Harman is releasing her first fiction book, The Midwife of Hope River, A Novel of an American Midwife today, August 28th, and I have selected it as the very first book in the Science & Sensibility Virtual Book Club. I invite all of you to join me in reading this new novel and participate in the events I have planned for our virtual book club in the beginning of October.
The Midwife of Hope River follows along with Patience Murphy, a midwife practicing during the Great Depression, serving the women of Appalachia, establishing trust and relationships with the mothers who struggle with poverty, challenges and hardship on a daily basis. Midwife Patience’s own intimate secrets and the presence of the Klu Klux Klan add even more intrigue and suspense, as care is provided to the most fragile and deserving of women as they persevere to birth their babies under circumstances that stretch the midwife and risk the lives of all involved.
I hope that you will join me in reading Patricia Harman’s The Midwife of Hope River, and participating in the events I have planned for the beginning of October. That timeframe will allow everyone time to read it over the next 5-6 weeks. Here are some of the things you can look forward to in Science & Sensibility’s first Virtual Book Club;
- An interview with the author, Patricia Harman, to learn more about how she came to write this novel, how she did the historical research needed to capture the personalities and events she created and and the message she felt that needed to be shared with all of the readers.
- An engaging discussion between Science & Sensibility readers, myself and book author, Patricia about your thoughts on the book, the challenges faced by the main character, Patience Murphy and the birth climate for the women of Appalachia during the Depression. I have no doubt that all of us will be impacted by what we read and will appreciate a venue in which to share our thoughts and the emotions that arise from this passionate story.
- When you participate in our Virtual Book Club by leaving a comment on the Book Club Discussion blog post in early October, your name will be entered in the random drawing to receive an autographed copy of the book personally inscribed to you.
I have always enjoyed reading memoirs and fictional books about birth, some of my favorites have been The Birth House, Monique and the Mango Rains, Midwives, Catching Babies and The Red Tent and I am looking forward to adding The Midwife of Hope River to the list. I know that any discussion with the readers of this blog will be interesting, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts and impressions of the book and sharing that discussion with the author.
Won’t you join me in celebrating good bye to summer, hello fall and maybe starting off the Labor Day weekend with this book, jotting down your notes along the way for sharing when I review the book and we share in our discussion with Patricia Harman.
You can find the book at your local library, Amazon, major book retailer or favorite independent bookseller. Grab yourself a copy, settle down with your favorite tea or coffee and start right in. In the meantime, let me know in our comments section, what your favorite novels or memoirs about birth have been to date, and why. Then look forward to our vibrant discussion about this newest novel on midwives, mothers and birth, along with an interview with the author. Join in that discussion and you may be chosen to receive your very own autographed copy. Happy reading!