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.
My thoughts...The Reluctant Midwife is a follow up to Harman's novel The Midwife of Hope River, having not read the first novel I found no issue in reading The Reluctant novel. Having however read the second novel, I now plan on reading the first novel!
The novel follows Nurse Becky Myers as she brings her former employer, Dr. Blum, back home to Hope River. The Depression leaves nobody untouched in West Virginia. Nurse Becky is desperate to find work to support herself and a catatonic Dr. Blum. She finds help from her friend Patience and her husband as well as odd jobs delivering groceries and helping out in medical situations (though there was much aversion to delivering babies).
I can't say I loved Nurse Becky, but that sorta made the novel great. She was strong, determined and doing what she could in horrible circumstances. I respected her. I rooted for her. What I found most fascinating about this novel is how Harman made the Great Depression feel real to me. I really mean that. I was reading the novel and thinking of my grandparents, this was something they went through and how it must have changed them deeply. In the novel, Nurse Becky even says something about how she hadn't given thought about how the Depression had even changed the lives of the children...what a horrific time. Yet Harmon writes about the townspeople who still push on, helping each other out when there was almost nothing to give and the trying to keep life normal when all comfort and security has been ripped from the country. A great character driven story. I look forward to reading more by Patricia Harman.
A great way to see a part of history come to life. Highly recommending!
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