2018 Book 471: ONCE A MIDWIFE by Patricia Harman

Once A Midwife Hope River #3 by Patricia Harman
ISBN: 9780062869333 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062825575 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9780062825582 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062867711 (audiobook)
ASIN: B0756DR699 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: November 6, 2018 
Publisher: William Morrow 

Welcome back to Hope River in New York Times bestselling author Patricia Harman’s newest novel as midwife Patience Hester, along with her family and friends, face the challenges of the home front during World War II.

The women of Hope River trust midwife Patience Hester, 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 a patriot—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 Bitsy, who has returned to Hope River, stalwart neighbors, and her own indomitable strength to see them all through.

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Author Patricia Harman returns to Hope River, West Virginia and the Hester family in the early 1940s with her latest addition to the Hope River Series Once A Midwife. Adolph Hitler and the Nazis are overtaking most of Europe, the United States is initially practicing isolationism from the European conflict until the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and the country is still reeling from the Great Depression. Patience Hester is still a practicing midwife and her husband, Daniel, is still working as a veterinarian. Their family consists of their two biological children, Danny and Mira, along with their adopted twin daughters Sunny and Sue. Bitsy Proudfoot, Patience’s friend, trainee and former roommate, returns to Hope River to with her ward, Willie. Bitsy and Willie, along with the Hesters are making the best of their situations and hoping and praying that war will not come to West Virginia. Their hopes are dashed with the bombing of Pearl Harbor and men from their community and surrounding communities are eager to do their part, signing up to fight, except for Daniel Hester. Daniel refuses to sign up for the draft and isn’t eager to return to war after the Great War or World War I. He witnessed first hand the atrocities man commits against man and animal alike and he doesn’t want to have a part in perpetuating those acts of inhumanity and insanity. Needless to say, this causes problems for Daniel in the community as well as with Patience and his own son. Patience has a hard time understanding Daniel’s pacifism but is determined to stand by his side. Their son, Danny, initially feels that his father is being cowardly until Daniel tries to explain to the children the reason for his actions. The looming question on everyone’s mind is will Daniel be sent to prison for his actions and if so, for how long and where will he go? For Patience, the question becomes can she continue to stand by her husband if she doesn’t agree with his decision when she’s the one that will bear the brunt of the work and fallout afterward? Does she have the strength to do what needs to be done to keep her family going forward? As the men of Hope River and beyond go off to war, the women are left to tend the farms and families while worrying about loved ones far, far away. Can they stay strong in the midst of these trying times?

Once a Midwife is the third book in the Hope River series by Patricia Harman and this book packed quite an emotional punch. Mr. Harman touches on a number of topics and themes throughout the story, such as pacifism in times of war, family solidarity, local prisoner of war camps, and even interracial relationships and marriage. This wasn’t an easy read partially due to the subject matter presented (and due to a bout with vertigo that caused a brief hospitalization, chronic daily migraine headaches, and a sinus infection — hey, if you’re going to get sick, do it right!), but it was one that I found to be touching, emotional, and even enjoyable. I’m always eager to read books featuring West Virginia, even if it is with a fictional town and fictional characters. I’ve read and re-read the Hope River series by Ms. Harman and was looking forward to reading Once a Midwife and it did not disappoint me. I enjoyed the historical tidbits, the characters, and even the mountain settings (West Virginia is a gorgeous state…come by for a visit sometime). Ms. Harman has an adept way of pulling the reader into the day-to-day lives of her characters and investing the reader into the characters and story’s final outcome. If you’ve read any of the books in the Hope River series then I highly recommend you grab a copy of Once a Midwife to read. If you haven’t read any of the previous books in this series, start with The Midwife of Hope River and The Reluctant Midwife before reading Once A Midwife. This historical fiction series is one that I consider a #mustreadseries and I hope you’ll agree.

Disclaimer:  I received a free digital copy of this book from TLC Book Tours for review purposes. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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About Patricia Harman

Photo by Callie Lindsey Photography

Patricia Harman, CNM, got her start as a lay midwife on rural communes and went on to become a nurse-midwife on the faculties of Ohio State University, Case Western Reserve University, and West Virginia University. She is the author of two acclaimed memoirs and three novels: the bestselling The Midwife of Hope River, The Reluctant Midwife, and The Runaway Midwife. She has three sons and lives near Morgantown, West Virginia.

Find out more about Patricia at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

This review and blog tour brought to you by TLC Book Tours

2017 Book #40: THE RUNAWAY MIDWIFE by Patricia Harman

The Runaway Midwife by Patricia Harman 
ISBN: 9780062467300 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780062467317 (ebook)
ASIN: B01FD9RXFW (Kindle edition)
Publisher: William Morrow Books 
Publication Date: January 31, 2017

From the USA Today bestselling author of the Hope River series comes a new contemporary midwife novel.

Say “goodbye” to your old life, and “hello” to the life you’ve been waiting for…

Midwife Clara Perry is accustomed to comforting her pregnant patients…calming fathers-to-be as they anxiously await the birth of their children…ensuring the babies she delivers come safely into the world.

But when Clara’s life takes a nosedive, she realizes she hasn’t been tending to her own needs and does something drastic: she runs away and starts over again in a place where no one knows her or the mess she’s left behind in West Virginia. Heading to Sea Gull Island—a tiny, remote Canadian island—Clara is ready for anything. Well, almost. She left her passport back home, and the only way she can enter Canada is by hitching a ride on a snowmobile and illegally crossing the border.

Deciding to reinvent herself, Clara takes a new identity—Sara Livingston, a writer seeking solitude. But there’s no avoiding the outside world. The residents are friendly, and draw “Sara” into their lives and confidences. She volunteers at the local medical clinic, using her midwifery skills, and forms a tentative relationship with a local police officer.

But what will happen if she lets down her guard and reveals the real reason why she left her old life? One lesson soon becomes clear: no matter how far you run, you can never really hide from your past.

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Clara Perry is having a horrible year. First, a good friend commits suicide. Second, she finds out that her husband is cheating on her…again. And last, one of her midwifery patients dies in labor and Clara is wanted for questioning about medical negligence and possible manslaughter charges. Unable to cope with everything crashing down around her, Clara does the only thing she can think of and that’s run. Not only does she run away from her husband and the medicolegal dilemmas facing her in West Virginia, she runs away from everything, taking all of the cash available in the bank, assuming a new identity, and leaves the country. She ends up on a small Canadian island off of Lake Erie across from Ohio. It is there that she finds the chance to find out what she wants from life and how she might be able to obtain it since she’s living as not only a fugitive but also as an illegal immigrant. But how can she truly find herself if she’s living a lie? Is it possible to run away from who we really are and build a new life on a shaky foundation?

I found The Runaway Midwife to be a fast-paced and entrancing read. Even though I was dealing with an increasingly severe migraine headache, I kept on reading simply because I had to know what happened next. (I did eventually wind up taking a break for a few hours to allow the pain medication to kick in, but I didn’t want to set aside this story even for a cursed migraine.) I enjoyed reading about Clara/Sara’s journey of self-discovery and the realization that the past might just come back to bite you when least expected. Ms. Harman incorporated so much more into this story than just run away from life’s problems, there’s an unsolved rape case on the island that has repercussions in the present, there’s an initial divide between the life-long islanders and the so-called “hippies” that have moved in and are interested in living off the land, there’s an environmental standoff when confronting development versus preservation, and then there’s the socioeconomic adversity of a dwindling population and what can be done to maintain the island and the islander’s lifestyles. This isn’t just a story of running away from life’s problems, it’s also a story about new beginnings not just for Clara/Sara but for the island as well, and a story of hope. If you haven’t read anything by Ms. Harman, you are sorely missing out. Her nonfiction, as well as her historical fiction books, are truly a delight to read (I’m not just saying that because she’s a fellow West Virginian either). The Runaway Midwife is a recommended read by this blogger/reader and I hope that you’ll enjoy it just as much as I did. Now, go out and get yourself a copy so you have something enjoyable to read this weekend. Just in case you couldn’t tell, I really enjoyed reading The Runaway Midwife and I look forward to reading more from Ms. Harman in the future.

Disclaimer: I received a free digital advanced reader copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes via Edelweiss. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

About Patricia Harman

Patricia Harman, CNM, got her start as a lay midwife on rural communes and went on to become a nurse-midwife on the faculties of Ohio State University, Case Western Reserve University, and West Virginia University. She is the author of two acclaimed memoirs and the bestselling novel The Midwife of Hope River. She has three sons and lives near Morgantown, West Virginia.

Find out more about Patricia at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

This review is part of a tour brought to you by:

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The Runaway Midwife



The Runaway Midwife



2015 Book 75: THE RELUCTANT MIDWIFE Review

The Reluctant Midwife: A Hope River Novel by Patricia Harman
ISBN: 9780062358240 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780062358257 (ebook)
ASIN: B00KVI9DP4 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow and Company

The USA Today bestselling author of The Midwife of Hope River returns with a heartfelt sequel, a novel teeming with life and full of humor and warmth, one that celebrates the human spirit

The Great Depression has hit West Virginia hard. Men are out of work; women struggle to feed hungry children. Luckily, Nurse Becky Myers has returned to care for them. While she can handle most situations, Becky is still uneasy helping women deliver their babies. For these mothers-to-be, she relies on an experienced midwife, her dear friend Patience Murphy. 

Though she is happy to be back in Hope River, time and experience have tempered Becky’s cheerfulness-as tragedy has destroyed the vibrant spirit of her former employer Dr Isaac Blum, who has accompanied her. Patience too has changed. Married and expecting a baby herself, she is relying on Becky to keep the mothers of Hope River safe. 

But becoming a midwife and ushering precious new life into the world is not Becky’s only challenge. Her skills and courage will be tested when a calamitous forest fire blazes through a Civilian Conservation Corps camp. And she must find a way to bring Isaac back to life and rediscover the hope they both need to go on.

Full of humor and compassion, The Reluctant Midwife is a moving tribute to the power of optimism and love to overcome the most trying circumstances and times, and is sure to please fans of the poignant Call the Midwife series. 

Becky Myers is used to hard work and a life filled with disappointment. She grew up with privilege as the daughter of a local physician in Vermont. She married a doctor before the Great War and continued to live in New England. Sadly, her husband was never quite the same after his return from the war and committed suicide shortly after his return home. Determined to start over, Becky received additional medical training and eventually settled in West Virginia as a nurse with the public health department. She then left West Virginia and moved to Virginia to become the nurse in the practice of a local physician. When that physician becomes catatonic and she has nowhere else to go, she and Dr. Isaac Blum return to Hope River, West Virginia. Becky thought that Virginia had been hit hard by the depression, but West Virginia and its residents are struggling. For the first time in her life, Becky is dependent upon the kindness of strangers to ensure she and Dr. Blum won’t starve. The one thing that Hope River needs is another midwife, since Becky’s friend Patience is unable to meet the demands of the county. Unfortunately midwifery is the last thing that Becky feels comfortable providing, but she soon realizes that she either provides this service or starves. 

First, let me say if you haven’t read The Midwife of Hope River then you need to read it as soon as possible. Is it possible to understand the action in The Reluctant Midwife without reading The Midwife of Hope River first? Yes it is, but simply trust me on this one and read The Midwife of Hope River before you read The Reluctant Midwife. Now that I have that out of the way, the second, and by far the most important thing is that I loved both of these books. I don’t mean these books are nice, even though they are, or just that they are well written, and again they are . . . I mean that Ms. Harman has the ability to craft stories with characters that are so vivid and colorful that you’ll want to know more about them. 

The action in both books is portrayed realistically and without any sugarcoating. Life in the early 1930s was hard for a large number of people across the United States. Unemployment was high and social services were all but unheard of in many areas. Even with the harsh, hardscrabble life for most of the people portrayed in both books, there is always an underlying sense of tenacity and hope. Becky gets to witness this first hand and quickly comes to realize that even though she and her former boss, Dr. Blum, may be experiencing difficulties, they are also blessed. Ms. Harman reintroduces the reader to many characters from The Midwife of Hope River, namely the midwife Patience, her husband the veterinarian Daniel Hester, their son Danny, the pharmacist and his wife, the grocer and his wife, the colored pastor and his wife, and more. The reader is also introduced to new characters like Captain Wolfe from the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp, a few mafia men from Pennsylvania, the young worker-turned-medic from the CCC camp, and more. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt even makes a cameo appearance. There is suffering and death interspersed with joyous tales of survival and life.

It was fascinating to read about Becky’s transformation from this somewhat formal and privileged woman to one that becomes more relaxed, slightly more informal, and willing to do anything necessary to survive. Becky’s change begins when she becomes the caretaker of her former boss, Dr. Blum. Her change continues as she becomes more relaxed and self-assured with her midwifery skills, and is completed when she eventually becomes the nurse and sole medical personnel at the CCC camp. Obviously I can’t tell you everything about the book because then you won’t need to read it. There are stories within stories in both The Midwife of Hope River and The Reluctant Midwife. Ms. Harman provides the reader with insight into the primary characters, Patience and Becky, by giving glimpses into their pasts as well as their present lives. Did I enjoy reading these books? Yes! I read both cover-to-cover with minimal interruptions or breaks. If you enjoy reading historical fiction, you’ll definitely want to read these books. If you think you don’t like historical fiction, trust me and read these books. I can only hope that there will be more stories from Hope River in the future.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher via Edelweiss. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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