The midwife we came to love in The Midwife of Hope River, a book I read and reviewed last July, reappears as a secondary character in The Reluctant Midwife, by Patricia Harman. And The Reluctant Midwife takes an interesting twist as one of the secondary characters in The Midwife of Hope River becomes the star of the show in this second in the Hope River series.
Becky Myers, a friend of the primary character in the first book, returns to Hope River several years after she left, this time husbandless and bringing with her the doctor for whom she had worked. Unfortunately, Dr. Blum had suffered his own catastrophe and had subsequently become inexplicably catatonic. He had no one to care for him, and Becky feels responsible.
Times are tough as it is the middle of the Great Depression of the 1930s. Times are even worse in the particularly hard-hit West Virginia mountain region. But Becky has nowhere else to turn. She reaches out to Patience Murphy, who is still performing midwifery and now married with a child. Patience and her husband provide food, housing, and friendship to Becky and Dr. Blum.
As the novel progresses, Becky finds her way back to herself and creates a new life in the West Virginia mountains.
I loved the story of the tough Appalacian people and the author, herself a midwife, provides a great picture of the importance of friends and hope, especially during difficult times.
The novel is quite predictable, and told from a fairly biased point of view when it comes to the progressive agenda of the day. Nevertheless, it is quite readable and the characters are likable. I enjoy reading stories about the grittiness of the people during the difficult times of the Depression. They were so much stronger than we seem to be today.
The Reluctant Midwife is an uplifting story of friendship and love, and a decent – if not fabulous – read, particularly if you are interested in the field of midwifery.