On an icy winter night in an isolated house in rural Vermont, a seasoned midwife named Sibyl Danforth takes desperate measures to save a baby's life. She performs an emergency caesarean section on a mother she believes has died of a stroke. But what if Sibyl's patient wasn't dead - and Sibyl inadvertently killed her? As Sibyl faces the antagonism ...Read MoreOn an icy winter night in an isolated house in rural Vermont, a seasoned midwife named Sibyl Danforth takes desperate measures to save a baby's life. She performs an emergency caesarean section on a mother she believes has died of a stroke. But what if Sibyl's patient wasn't dead - and Sibyl inadvertently killed her? As Sibyl faces the antagonism of the law, the hostility of traditional doctors, and the accusations of her own conscience, Midwives engages, moves, and transfixes us as only the very best novels ever do.Read Less
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Everything that happens in this book, happens in the first 60 or so pages. The entire middle section is courtroom, legal mumbo-jumbo, action-less stuff. The ending has an interesting twist... but not worth reading the entire middle section just to get to it. I wound up skimming the last half of the boring stuff just to get to the end without missing anything important. I never, ever skim books... but I skimmed this one. If you want to read Chris Bohjalian, read Double Bind. That's a good one.
Publishers Weekly, 1997-01-21 Among the many achievements of this gripping, insightful novel is the remarkable fullness with which Bohjalian (Water Witches) writes about both the physicality and the spirituality of childbirth. OB/gyn physician Connie Danforth looks back on the events of a wrenching summer when she was 14 and her mother, Sibyl, a Vermont midwife and ex-hippie with a "distaste for most traditional and institutional authority," was on trial for murder. Sybil has successfully home-delivered more than 500 babies, but one freezing March night, the phone line down and the roads impassable, the laboring woman she is attending suddenly suffers what appears to be a fatal stroke. Sibyl saves the child with an emergency C-section only to find herself arrested after her assistant tells police that the operation was performed on a still-living woman. Is there, in fact, blood on Sibyl's hands? Or is she just a target of the hostile New England medical community, whose persecution of midwives dates back to the 17th-century expulsion of Anne Hutchinson from the Massachusetts Bay? As Connie wrestles with increasing doubts about whether or not her mother acted correctly, the Danforth family struggles to remain intact in the face of community ostracism and unrelenting media scrutiny. Readers will find themselves mesmerized by the irresistible momentum of the narrative and by Bohjalian's graceful and lucid, irony-laced prose. His warm, vivid evocations of child-bearing capture the wonder and terror of bringing a baby into the world. With acutely sensitive character delineation, he manages to present all the participants in this drama, from the family members to the grieving widower, as complex, fully realized individuals. This is a story with no obvious villains or heroes, which only renders the tragedy all the more haunting. Movie rights to Columbia Tri-Star; BOMC and QPB alternates. (Apr.)
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