Title: Once a Midwife, a Hope River Novel
Author: Patricia Harman
Publication: William Morrow, trade paperback, 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction
Plot: Welcome to Hope River, West Virginia as midwife Patience Hester, along with her family and friends, face the challenges of the home front during World War II, in Patricia Harman's latest novel.
The women of Hope River trust Patience, whose skill in delivering babies is known for miles around. But though the Great Depression is behind them, troubles are not, for Europe is at war . . . and it can only be a matter of time before the U.S. enters the fray.
And while some are eager to join the fight, Patience’s husband, Daniel, is not. Daniel is patriotic—but he saw too much bloodshed during the First World War, and has vowed never to take up arms again. His stance leaves Patience and their four children vulnerable—to the neighbors who might judge them, and to the government, who imprison Daniel for his beliefs.
Patience must support their family and fight for her husband’s release despite her own misgivings. And with need greater than ever, she must also keep her practice running during this tumultuous time . . . relying on generous friends, like her old pal Bitsy, stalwart neighbors, and her own strength to see them all through.
Audience: Fans of historical fiction, particularly books about the WWII home front; those who enjoyed the PBS show Call the Midwife.
Purchase Links: HarperCollins * Barnes & Noble * IndieBound * Amazon
My Impressions: Hope River's midwife, Patience, arrived at this small West Virginia town in an earlier book when she was on the run, and has since built a happy life with her veterinarian husband, his child from a previous marriage, one they had together, and two they have adopted. However, their life together is threatened when America is brought into WWII after Pearl Harbor because Daniel decides, as a newly determined pacifist, he cannot register for the draft. No one in Hope River, including his wife, understands his position when the cause is good and the enemy is undeniably evil (not to mention, his family needs Daniel’s financial support).
Harman’s depiction of a man whose conscience prevents him from doing the easy thing and the mixture of abuse that he and his family suffer as a result – and the friends who don’t understand his reasoning but remain loyal – is well drawn. Harman also does a good job showing how conflicted Patience is about her husband’s controversial stand on the war; she is liberal in some ways but her patriotism limits her perspective. I haven’t read the first book where she was apparently on the run from the law but that and her activist past should make her more sympathetic to her husband’s plight.
Despite the drama of periodic births/deliveries, this book is primarily a story of small town life with the backdrop of war, reading at times like inspirational fiction. It is pleasant if not memorable. Readers who are interested in midwives may wish for more on that topic and should check out my recommended reading list on midwife fiction.
Off the Blog: I was privileged this week to attend the commissioning of the USS Thomas Hudner destroyer in South Boston. It was a dramatic and emotional event, particularly because Medal of Honor winner Hudner died only a year before the ship was completed. I am eager to read the book that captures his story.
Source: I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and TLC Book Tours for review purposes. You can visit other stops on the tour and read the reviews by clicking below: