The tale of a midwife put on trial when she loses a mother during child birth. It's told from the perspective of her daughter looking back (she was a teenager at the time) and from the diaries of the midwife.
It's intense and thought provoking. The author does an excellent job of presenting all sides of the ordeal. You see it from the perspective of the midwife, the daughter, the widower, the midwife's apprentice, the lawyers, the medical establishment, and the midwife community. You are kept in suspense until the very end. An excellent book!
i've waited a long time to read this book as i am a nurse and know what tragedies can happen in home care. this book is this author's best effort, in my opinion. the story of a vermont midwife who on a regular delivery of a baby everything goes terribly wrong. this book floows the family,the friends,the society and the trial to it's conclusion. a very good read!
This is an awesome, suspensful novel about a midwife that is arrested and tried for possibly causing a woman's death while trying to deliver her baby. It is told from the point-of-view of the midwife's daughter, which gives the story an interesting drama because of the hidden facts that are not know to the daugther. The story details the experience of a rural family, an unusual profession, good intentions, grief, and the horror of your life being in the hands of a jury. A great read; I couldn't put it down.
This was a terrific book! I read this book proabably 5 years ago and it is still memorable. I remain surprised that the author is a man as he seemed to get relationships and conversations between women just right.
Loved this book. Controversial topic about midwive assisted birthing vs. hospital birthing. Yet a fascinating read, and kept me interested until the end - because you don't really learn all the details until the end.
I bailed out of this one after about four chapters. It just didn't grab me. Though, I think a midwife's calling is noble this book was just boring. I read enough to know that the girl's mother was on trial for causing a death but it kept jumping back and forth between different time periods. I also have to admit I had a hard timing dealing with a male writer trying to take on a teenage girl persona.
This story is really gripping and thought provoking. It is told from a daughter's viewpoint and digs into the reasons her mother became a midwife. Because I am of the generation who had their babies in a hospital with plenty of painkillers, it was quite an eye-opener to read about the natural birth process. I found this story a page-turner that was more fascinating than I expected.
I had read other reviews that compared this book to Harper Lee's incredible novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. I really didn't see the connection at first, other than the fact that both books involve a court room trial. As I read this book to its conclusion, I was amazed at the similarities.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is a well written, well crafted story. It is definitely a story that I will never forget. Once again, that's a similarity to To Kill a Mockingbird (which will always be my favorite book). I found Midwives to be very difficult to put down. Its characters became very real to me. Sybil and Connie will be with me forever.
Fabulous! Great story! Will keep you on the edge of your seat right up until the last page. Made even better since it takes place in a little town near Burlington, Vermont, not far from where I was born and raised.
In this novel, Sybil, a Vermont midwife, is accused of manslaughter after the child whose birth she is attending amidst a terrible winter snowstorm dies. Narrated by Connie, the now-adult daughter of Sybil (who was a young teenager during the events), Midwives moves back and forth in time, fitting vital pieces of information about what happened that terrible night like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle into its complicated plot. As Connie looks back on the events that changed her mother's entire world and which shaped her own life in significant ways, she is still trying to understand what happened, and why.
I found Midwives to be wonderfully written and powerfully told, in the crime scenes, the courtroom scenes, the family scenes, and in all the rest. In the same way he was able to in Before You Know Kindess (another fabulous and moving novel), in Midwives Bohjalian writes sympathetically and convincingly from the point of view of women and young girls, and at the same time educates the reader about the varying perspectives around highly-charged sociopolitical issues, of which home births and midwifery is one.
I read that film rights to the novel have been bought. I really enjoyed this book, and think it would make a terrific movie. Bohjalian writes very cinematically, with each scene very easy to visualize. I can't wait to see this novel adapted on the screen!
A compelling, exceptionally satisfying story set in a comfortable and embracing atmosphere. The characters are easy to like, the setting in Vermont is inviting, and the plot twists often enough to keep the reader guessing till the last of the last words are written. This is not what one might call a conventional mystery, rather a story of conflict and care. Chris Bohjalian has done a remarkable job of keeping the touch light enough amidst a rather brooding problem. There is even the lightest sense of humor when it is needed most. A great read
The story about a midwife who looses a mother during a delivery....told from the perspective of the midwife's daughter. I thought the format of the book was great...it was an excellent moral dilemna novel and I never really knew who to believe.
I really enjoyed this book. It reminded me of Jodi Picoult's books - with the court case, the female narrators, the hints of adultery... it was a very well-done story about a topic (midwifery) that I knew little to nothing about. All in all, I'm very happy that I already own a few other books by him to read. It was a fast and exciting read, with a surprising ending.
I read this book maybe 14 or 15 years ago and the story is still with me. That is saying a lot because I forget most of the books I read or they all run together. This one stands alone though. Highly recommended!
WOW!!! After having 2 babies delivered by a midwife at home, I would say this is as close to being there as you can get! I would definitely not read this, though, if you are pregnant right now! I had mine at home with no trouble, but horrors like occur in this book so sometimes occur. Linda
I really enjoyed this book and read it rather quickly. I found the story to be very captivating and interesting. It is told from the perspective of the daughter of the midwife that is in trouble because one of her patients passed away during child birth. It has sort of a crime drama element to it. I give it 5 stars, certainly not boring!
On an icy winter night in an isolated houre in rural Vermont, a seasoned midwife named Sibyl Danforth takes desperate measures to save a baby's life. She performs an emergency cesarean section on a mother she believes has died of stroke. But what is 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 consicence, Midwives engages, moves, and transfixes us as only the very best novels ever do.
This was a book that I started several years ago and then lost interest. As it is a popular book, it remained on my TBR list, but somehow I just never found the motivation to pick it up again - at lest not until GR challenges came along for which it was an ideal choice.
This is the story of a young girl's family, particularly her mother and the singular event of her mother's life which helped to form hers.
Sibyl Danforth was a dedicated midwife who one horrible night had a mother to die giving birth. Sibyl saved the child by doing an emergency operation...and, there the story starts. What really happened? Was the patient really dead or did Sibyl's action kill her?
Connie is Sibyl's 14 year old daughter and the anrrator of the story and its events. The reader sees everything from Connie's re-telling and point of view, which is that of a young teen and not the adult that she later becomes.
I got thoroughly caught up in Connie's story of her mother and the trial and found that I believed the outsome of the trial was sure. But was it?
This is the first Chris Bohjalian book that I have read. Gave it 4* and will definitely look for another.
This book reminded me of "To Kill A Mockingbird" in its intensities and probably because of the court settings. It brought out the divergent views on Midwivery quite well. Also shows how witnesses to events cannot necessarily be trusted by what they think they saw. I was riveted.
Midwives is a wonderfully written and powerfully told story of a family's life in small-town Vermont and the events that changed it forever. Gripping and real, Chris Bohjalian has woven together a murder mystery that will have readers guessing until the very end.
Sybil Danforth, midwife and mother of the story's narrator, 14-year-old Connie, has a thriving practice and normal family life. Then the unthinkable happens: on a cold winter night in the middle of coaching Charlotte Bedford through her lengthy and strenuous labor, tragedy strikes -- Charlotte dies while trying to give birth to her son. With phone lines heaving with ice and roads too treacherous to drive upon, Sybil is forced into a decision -- to save the unborn baby via a homemade Caeserean or let him die along with his mother.
As the events of that evening unfold, readers are privy to shocking information: the Caesarean Sybil is forced to perform may have been done on a living woman. Soon a courtroom battle ensues, pitting the medical community against midwifery, and readers will be left wondering after each page is turned what really happened on that cold, dark night.
Chris Bohjalian is a very talented writer who has obviously spent a lot of research on this novel. Telling this story in a female voice as accurately as he did makes Midwives all the more compelling and authentic. His writing style was very easy to understand even though it jumps back and forth between past and present. A hearty mystery with a riveting conclusion. I will be reading more by this author.
I strongly recommend this book to the serious reader. I have read it twice now, and actually ordered an extra copy for my "hoarding stash".. those books that I simply cannot let go. This is a MUST READ.
This a great book, written from the perspective on the 14 year old daughter of a midwive who had a terrible incident during a birth. I recommend this book. Makes me never really want to visit Vermont...
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 cesarean 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.
Well-written, the story is crafted carefully from start to finish. Clearly drawn characters, interesting plot, psychologically complex, quietly tense. This book held me right from the start. Though clearly a literary novel, also a mystery.
Loved this book. It has earned a permanent spot on my shelf. The story is engrossing and it is a quick read. I think I read it in a matter of days. A story that you think about long after you have finished reading it.
I loved this book! Very engaging, I couldn't put it down and read it all night long. The story is about a midwife in the 70's, who has a woman die on her during a home birth. She is subsequently sued by the family, and has a court battle and personal battle to fight. It is written from her daughter's point of view and includes her journal entries. Well written and reads like a true story!
Most of the members of my book club loved this courtroom drama about a midwife who questions whether or not her actions caused the death of a woman during the delivery of her child, from the viewpoint of her teenage daughter. Well-written, I found the book lacking in suspense, but interesting nonetheless.
I am a Labor and Delivery nurse and also a nursing professor in that area of expertise. I always approach books on the subject with a little nervousness. Does the writer have a good grasp of the facts? Does the writer have an agenda? This book was a real page turner for me. I was really shocked by how accurate most of his medical descriptions were. I was also very pleased that the book remained a story about the people involved and didn't turn into an indictment of midwifery. I have since read more of his work and have noticed that his journalism roots seem to draw him to a theme that may be controversial or worthy of some in-depth reporting and then he instead does a book about real people dealing with that theme on a human level. I highly recommend the book and the author.
This was my forst Chris Bohjalian book, and it left me wanting to read more of his books. Midwives is very well-written, and well-researched. It almost had a Jodi Picoult feel to it, with the twist at the end. I like how two points of view are used to tell the story - the 14 year old daughter of the midwife is the narrator, and the midwife's journal entries at the beginning of each chapter also provide bits and pieces, bringing the story together.
I think that Bohjalian does a great job of showing both sides of midwifery - the supporters and the non-supporters.
Overall, this is a great read and I look foraward to reading more of this author.
This was just okay for me. I understood the life of midwifes more than I ever have, but personally I think I would rather have a baby in the hospital just to avoid the risks that have happened in this book.
I didn't think Midwives stood up to all of the reviews I read. While it was a decent read and told from the viewpoint of the 14-year-old daughter, Connie, Sybil Danforth is the key midwife involved. I'd give it 3 stars at most. Nice relaxing story with a courtroom drama as Sybil is prosecuted for the death of a young mother she is attending as a midwife. Lots of interesting side impressions such as what men think of midwives, how doctors react to the concept, should a woman have a baby at home, etc.
Another great book from one of my favorite authors. Midwifery has been something that fascinates me long before I read this book. The possibility of something going wrong is so overwhelming in such a delicate situation. This book captures the event as well as the process the people involved go through following this tragedy.
I read this while pregnant and boy did my heart drop many times as this midwife unwittingly enters a "worse-case-scenario", testing her passion, faith and courage to stay true to her conscience. Bohjalian builds suspense masterfully.
Ostensibly a courtroom drama novel, in reality "Midwives" is the story of young girl's coming of age. The story centers around a tragically failed home birth and the ensuing trial of the midwife involved, the events seen through the eyes of the woman's thirteen year old daughter. Wonderfully spare and faultless prose, superb characterization, sharp dialogue...the reader easily slips into the mind, emotions, loves and fears of this teenage girl. If it weren't for the photo on the inside fly leaf you could never ever guess that the author, Chris Bohjalian, is a man.
This is a story about a possible crime committed by a rural midwife. Also interwoven into the story are the memories of a little girl about her mother on that horrible night. This book is full of so many twists and turns that you will find it hard to put it down until you discover all of the answers.
In the pastoral community of Reddington, Vermont, during the harsh winter of 1981, Sibyl Danforth makes a life-or-death decision based on fifteen years of experience as a respected midwife -- a decision intended to save a child, a decision that will change her life forever.
Sibyl Danforth is a midwife. She is very good at her profession. One stormy night, she is attending to the birth of Charlotte Bedford. Charlotte's husband, Pastor Asa Bedford and Sibyl's apprentice, Anne, are in attendance. Things start going wrong and Sibyl has always had a history of getting someone to a hospital if things turn that way.
Unfortunately, the weather prevents her from getting Charlotte to a hospital. Sibyl performs a surgery that she has never done before and her life then becomes a complete mess.
We are taken through all of the turmoil that Sibyl and her family experience after this happens. Her daughter takes us through the trial and after.
This was well-written and had you wondering throughout the story about what was actually the case.
This is a tragic book that will keep you sympathizing with the midwife as she performs an emergency C-section on a mother she believes has died of a stroke on an icy winter night in rural Vermont. However, when she is arrested and faces a courtroom, you will be riveted until the last page.
Very well written, but the situation of the book is so frustrating. However, it does leave the reader always guessing "Was the pregnant woman already dead when the baby was delivered?" Will keep your interest until the end.
I admit that after reading the author's novel A Double Bind, my expectations for this book were low. However, the topic intrigued me and I read it. I loved it! I thought the story was well written and was impressed by the author's research. I recommend this one to anyone interested in midwifery and/or the legal system.
This book features a good story told through an interesting perspective. A lay midwife loses a laboring mother and faces criminal charges. The story is told from her teenaged daughter's point of view. The reading goes fast, because the reader wants to find out what ultimately happens to a well-intended person who may have made a tragic error in judgment.
This is an Oprah Book Club book. It tells the story of a Vermont midwife named Sibyl from the standpoint of her daughter. After an emergency C-Section on a Mom Sibyl believes has died of stroke, it becomes uncertain if her patient was truly dead. Superbly crafted and powerful novel. This book has both quiet drama and courtroom thrills.
Bohjalian did his research about contemporary lay/direct entry midwifery. I had a lay/direct entry midwife at my daughter's birth, and this story about broke my heart -- I felt tremendous sympathy for the characters (all of them) involved in the ambiguous and painful crisis at the heart of the story. Bohjalian has crafted a sensitive portrayal of the teenage narrator's psyche. My hat's off to Bohjalian for getting it just right. Recommended.
From Oprahs book club (the first time she did it)A midwife delivers a baby in an isolated house in Vermont on an icy winter night. The midwife takes drastic measures to save the babys' life with dire consequences. A very good book.
A book about reflections and human nature that will keep you turning the pages until the end. Chris Bohjalian has an amazing talent for capturing the essence of the female psyche from adolescence to adulthood. Bravo!!!
I am still undecided about my feelings for this book. I read it quickly, but that was more from my desire to finish it and move on to something else rather than any compelling need to see what happened in the end.
For starters, I found the author's message confusing. Is he for home birth, or against it? Is he intentionally stereotyping the home birthing community, or trying to show solidarity with them? There was so much conflict in his approach and conclusion that I am still unsure what the true "take home message" was really supposed to be.
I was also not impressed with the characters or the character development. Bohjalian's main character is a 12-year-old girl, but the story is told as a flashback from that girl as an adult. Perhaps the author had to run the story through too many filters, but I never really felt like that the main character every really found her voice. Sadly, the majority of the remaining characters were very flat and forgettable as well.
One positive of this book is its ability to generate lively discussions regarding the opinions of home birth vs hospital birth. Outside of that, there is not much in this book that I found worth recommending.
I recently finished this book, and LOVED it! I may be a bit more partial since my daughters were all home births, but I was kept in suspense ever since she explained the "incident." And the ending . . . ! DO NOT LOOK AT THE END!
This is gripping story, told by the young daughter of a midwife who is brought to trial because of the death of a mother in childbirth. Interspersed throughout the story, you see snippets of the mother's diary, and you get an interesting perspective of what the daughter sees through her 14 year old eyes. I couldn't put this down once I started it.
An inside account of a midwife's moments. Each chapter begins with the midwife's diary entry, but then is told from her daughters point of view.
When one of the midwife's patients dies due to an emergency C-section(in order to save the babies life) all heck breaks loose.
I felt really sorry for this midwife but could see mistakes that she did make. This was a tough book at times emotionally, but was very well written and very interesting.
This book just wasn't for me. It puts questions in your mind of who is right and who is wrong. Its such a difficult subject. For a synopsis of the book, this is the description on the back.
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 perfoms an emergency cesarean section on a mother she believes has died of stroke. But what if Sibyl's patient wasn't dead -and Sibyl inadvertently killer 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 for a TBR Potluck in my online book club, The Reading Cove. I was glad to finally get this out of the TBR pile, but the writing style was haphazard and disappointing. It jumped around on the timeline of Sibyl's midwife trial, told from her daughter Connie's point-of-view as an adult who was 14 at the time. The constant back & forth from future to past made me lose interest. Meant to tease the reader? It only bored me when it would jump back into the past events when we already know so much about what happens in the future. Disappointed.
This book took me 4 LONG days to read. It seemed like 8 days. It was excruciatingly boring and tedious, and sometimes redundant. All the reviews here on PBS are glowing, but check out 42 bad reviews on amazon. I am just being honest so you dont waste your time reading a book.
I read To Kill a Mockingbird, and never did that book bored me. I was bored, but I finished it. I had to. I couldnt flip to the back and cheat. I had to make sure I didnt miss something important. The last 100 pages did fly faster than the first 270.
The main character who is writing the story is Connie the accused Midswife's daughter. She is 14 when this trial occurs in her life. She is not likeable. She is stoned often on Pot or drunk. None of the characters are ones you bond with or root for. The book is set in the 80s and there is NO 80s feel to it at all unless bland is the 80s in Vermont.
I should add that I had a C section while alive. Yes, I was not dead when A c section was performed on me. IN fact 3 times that has occurred in my life. (yes, I had anesthesia) but the premise in this story is that the midwife performed a C section on a live but passed out woman with out anesthesia and that killed her. The midwife claims the woman was dead and she was trying to save the baby. Which she does. Then you get all the long trial details and the author will flip back and forth in the time line. Sometimes that got confusing. I am sure it was there to make the story less linear and more interesting.
I cant recommend this book.
One good point: It is set in Vermont and you really do get a good feel for Vermont weather.