The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman is a novel that has stayed with me long after I read the last page. Not only did the story stick with me, but it also reaffirmed my belief that there are really great books being written all the time that just don't get the publicity or awards they deserve.
I was overjoyed to see that The Reluctant Midwife by Patricia Harman is another novel continuing along the same lines as Harman's first.
This novel focuses more on Nurse Becky and the doctor she once worked for, Dr. Blum, who are attempting to make a living for themselves during the Great Depression. With nowhere to turn, they head back to West Virginia where they reunite with Patience Hester, the midwife featured so prominently in The Midwife of Hope River.
Dr. Blum has been living in a catatonic state after the death of his wife in an automobile accident and the death of a patient on whom he operated on the same day. Since that time, he hasn't spoke a word, and Becky has cared for him - feeding him, brushing his teeth, dressing him.
Although the economy in West Virginia is even worse than in other parts of the country, Patience and her veterinarian husband Daniel Hester befriend these two and they are able to eke out their existence.
All the while Nurse Becky finds herself (reluctantly) assisting Patience with deliveries, and eventually taking over her practice when Patience is put on bed rest.
I loved the Great Depression setting, and was especially intrigued by the Civilian Conservation Corp where Becky eventually found nursing work. The cast of characters Harman created that comprised the small West Virginia town were interesting and realistic. And as in The Midwife of Hope River the accounts of Patience and Becky's deliveries were well explained and detailed.
Now that I've read The Reluctant Midwife, I have even more hope that this will not be the last novel about Patience and Becky and their midwifery practice. The Reluctant Midwife is another wonderful novel that book clubs should be busy discussing and women's fiction fans will enjoy.