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by Chris Bohjalian

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5,4701211,605 (3.81)133
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.
Recently added bynanithefk, Martialia, BjBnBd, Tiffiany85, aatumwa, private library, DrBenW, Riaslibrary, AllisonGunn
  1. 00
    The Round House by Louise Erdrich (sweetiegherkin)
    sweetiegherkin: Both books deal with a huge family crisis (the rape of the mother in The Round House, the trial of the mother in Midwives) and are told from the point of view of the family's 12- to 14-year-old only child, interspersing the tragic with the everyday life of a preteen/teen; both books also have unexpected endings.… (more)
  2. 24
    The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards (bnbookgirl)

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English (119)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (121)
Showing 1-5 of 119 (next | show all)
Vermont, 1981. Sibyl Danforth is a well-established midwife. But when complications arise on a night when the weather prohibits getting her patient to a hospital, she's forced to make a decision. At the end of that long night, an infant is saved, but the mother is dead. The implications of this rock the state of Vermont and Sibyl's fate will be determined by a jury's decision.

I've read quite a lot of Chris Bohjalian, but this is what I'd consider his breakout novel (I'm assuming because it's an Oprah pick), and I've had it on my bookshelf for quite a long time, just now getting around to reading it. It's not my favorite of his, but it's certainly not my least favorite either. I suppose I was expecting a little more "wow" factor, given the hype it had at the time. (But again, that was probably the Oprah influence.) Definitely some controversial subjects here, not only the midwife vs. hospital birth, but also the decision made during the particular home birth in this story. It's a good discussion book, and overall a good book. The choice to use Sibyl's 14-year-old daughter as the narrator is somewhat of an odd one in my opinion. I'm not sure it added to the story, though I will say that Bohjalian does do a good job with female characters, not only in this book but in others as well. Overall, I'd recommend this one. ( )
  indygo88 | Oct 1, 2022 |
I love everything I've read from Bohjalian, and Midwives lives up to my expectation.

The story centers around Sybil, a midwife who has lost a mother during a home birth gone wrong. The story is told primarily from the point of view of her teenaged daughter Connie.

Following the death of the lost mother, there is an autopsy and Sybil is arrested and tried. Most of the book follows the trial.

The thing I love about all of Bohjalian's books are the ambiguous moral dilemmas that leave me asking "what would I do?" and "what side would I have taken?" and "how would I have acted?"

Definitely a thought-provoking book! ( )
  sriddell | Aug 6, 2022 |
Excellent read. Very well researched but not overly technical. Chris Bohjalian does a remarkable job of writing from the perspective of a 14 year old girl, as well as inserting selections from her mother's diaries into each chapter. For a man to be able to grasp the female psyche and emotions during what would have been a terrifying and tension filled time in both of their lives is saying something about this author. ( )
  Jen-Lynn | Aug 1, 2022 |
Christine recommendation. ok. but too deep for me. ( )
  apende | Jul 12, 2022 |
This book kept my interest most of the time, and I learned some medical information. There were many tangents that did not add to the story, and the condemnation of the medical profession as a whole was very harsh. ( )
  suesbooks | Jun 19, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 119 (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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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
For Victoria,

the woman whose labors have beautified my whole life

And for our little girl,


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.
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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
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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.

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