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Midwives by Chris Bohjalian
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Midwives (edition 1998)

by Chris Bohjalian

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4,340891,140 (3.79)86
Member:vancouverdeb
Title:Midwives
Authors:Chris Bohjalian
Info:Vintage (1998), Edition: 1, Paperback, 374 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:fiction

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Midwives by Chris Bohjalian

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English (87)  French (1)  All languages (88)
Showing 1-5 of 87 (next | show all)
After reading Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands, I wanted to go back and red some of Chris Bohjalian's earlier works. His writing has improved since his earlier books but Midwives is still a very compelling novel and is written in a teenage girl's voice much like his new book. I though that Midwives was a fantastic novel and I was unable to put it down once I started it. I thought that the main character, Connie, was very believable even though her parents were a little hard to believe. Overall it was a great read. ( )
  susan0316 | Aug 12, 2014 |
Some of the passages were so well written it was impossible to tell that it was a man trying to write from the point of view of a woman.

An informative, suspenseful and propelling story, very well told, regarding a controversial topic.

( )
  FAR2MANYBOOKS | Apr 5, 2014 |
Some of the passages were so well written it was impossible to tell that it was a man trying to write from the point of view of a woman.

An informative, suspenseful and propelling story, very well told, regarding a controversial topic.

( )
  FAR2MANYBOOKS | Apr 5, 2014 |
4.5 stars

Sybil is a midwife and Connie's mom. The story is told from Connie's viewpoint. Connie is 14 years old when it happens. Sybil is helping a mom, Charlotte, in labour, but there is trouble, and Charlotte dies. Hoping to still save the baby, Sybil performs an emergency C-section on Charlotte. Unfortunately, there is now doubt as to whether or not Charlotte was actually dead before the C-section, or if that may have been what killed her. Sybil is charged, and brought to trial.

I have to admit this book surprised me. I had no idea I would like it nearly as much as I did. I don't want kids, so the first couple of chapters may have been a bit too much info for me, with the detail about women giving birth, but once the story really got going... once the night of Charlotte's labour and death arrives, then the subsequent investigation and trial happens, wow! I just did not want to put the book down. If I wasn't reading the book, I wanted to be. The tension and suspense as to what would happen, who would say what, especially at the trial, was huge. Of course, being told from Connie's viewpoint, you see how this affects the entire family. But, it was really the tension and suspense in the book that really drew me in and wouldn't let go. This will most likely be on my favourites list for the year. ( )
  LibraryCin | Jan 3, 2014 |
Very good story of ethical decision. Can't say much without giving story away. It is easy to read and worth it. Medical sociology--establishment against women. Taking normal process and making it an illness. ( )
  Kristelh | Nov 16, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 87 (next | show all)
The description of the nightmarish Caesarean Sibyl performs, and why she feels forced to perform it, is harrowing; it is also the book's most effective passage. Mr. Bohjalian has done his homework on midwifery and the mechanics of childbirth. He has also landed on a hot topic for baby boomers -- the whole question of when alternatives to traditional medicine are beneficial, and when they become dangerous.
 
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Epigraph
For the Lord will not

cast off for ever:

But though he caused grief,

yet will he have compassion

according to the multitude of his mercies.

For he doth not afflict willingly,

nor grieve the children of men.

-- Lamentations 3:31-33
We are each of us responsible for the evil we may have prevented.

-- James Martineau
Dedication
For Victoria,

the woman whose labors have beautified my whole life

And for our little girl,

Grace

In memory of my mother,

Annalee Nelson Bohjalian (1930-1995)
First words
Throughout the long summer before my mother's trial began, and then during those crisp days in the fall when her life was paraded publicly before the county--her character lynched, her wisdom impugned--I overheard much more than my parents realized, and I understood more than they would have liked.
Quotations
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
Want de Heere zal niet verstoten in eeuwigheid.
Maar als hij bedroefd heeft, zo zal Hij zich ontfermen, naar de grootheid van Zijn goedertierenheden.
Want Hij plaagt of bedroeft de mensenkinderen niet van harte.


Klaagliederen 3:31-33
Stuk voor stuk zijn we verantwoordelijk voor het kwaad dat we hadden kunnen voorkomen

James Martineau
Last words
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
In the pastoral community of Reddington, Vermont, during the harsh winter of 1981, Sibyl Danforth makes a life-or-death decision based on fifteen years of experience as a respected midwife — a decision intended to save a child, a decision that will change her life forever.

In the midst of a brutally cold night, cut off from the area hospital and even from the rescue squad by an ice storm that has downed phone lines and made roads impassable, Sibyl Danforth feels she has no alternative except to attempt to save the baby of a woman in her care who she fears has died of a stroke during a long and difficult labor. Later that day, however, the midwife's assistant tells the police that she believes the mother was still very much alive when the cesarean section was performed in the cold and isolated farmhouse.

The story of this tragedy and its aftermath is narrated by Sibyl's daughter, Connie, now an obstetrician, who is remembering the events that occurred the year she turned fourteen, when her mother's freedom and her family's fate rested in the hands of twelve men and women. As the Danforth family and the entire community are drawn into a gripping trial that at first appears meritless, and later frighteningly simple for Sibyl to lose, it is Connie's mesmerizing voice that perfectly captures a time, a place, and a group of people that will live on in the reader's memory long after this lyric, deeply suspenseful novel has ended.

Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375706771, Paperback)

Oprah Book Club® Selection, October 1998: On a violent, stormy winter night, a home birth goes disastrously wrong. The phone lines are down, the roads slick with ice. The midwife, unable to get her patient to a hospital, works frantically to save both mother and child while her inexperienced assistant and the woman's terrified husband look on. The mother dies but the baby is saved thanks to an emergency C-section. And then the nightmare begins: the assistant suggests that maybe the woman wasn't really dead when the midwife operated:
Did she perform at least eight or nine cycles as my mother said, or four or five as Asa recalled? That is the sort of detail that was disputable. But at some point within minutes of what my mother believed had been a stroke, after my mother concluded the cardiopulmonary resuscitation had failed to generate a pulse or a breath, she screamed for Asa and Anne to find her the sharpest knife in the house.
In Midwives, Chris Bohjalian chronicles the events leading up to the trial of Sibyl Danforth, a respected midwife in the small Vermont town of Reddington, on charges of manslaughter. It quickly becomes evident, however, that Sibyl is not the only one on trial--the prosecuting attorney and the state's medical community are all anxious to use this tragedy as ammunition against midwifery in general; this particular midwife, after all, an ex-hippie who still evokes the best of the flower-power generation, is something of an anachronism in 1981. Through it all, Sibyl, her husband, Rand, and their teenage daughter, Connie, attempt to keep their family intact, but the stress of the trial--and Sibyl's growing closeness to her lawyer--puts pressure on both marriage and family. Bohjalian takes readers through the intricacies of childbirth and the law, and by the end of Sibyl Danforth's trial, it's difficult to decide which was more harrowing--the tragic delivery or its legal aftermath.

Narrated by a now adult Connie, Midwives moves back and forth in time, fitting vital pieces of information about what happened that night like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle into its complicated plot. As Connie looks back on her mother's trial, she is still trying to understand what happened--not on the night of the disaster--but in the months and years that followed. --Margaret Prior

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:37:59 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

In the pastoral community of Reddington, Vermont, during the harsh winter of 1981, Sibyl Danforth makes a life-or-death decision based on fifteen years of experience as a respected midwife -- a decision intended to save a child, a decision that will change her life forever.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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