Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Secrets of Midwives by Sally Hepworth
SECRETS OF MIDWIVES is a contemporary story of mother/daughter relationships across three generations of midwives. It is also a story of secrets and the havoc they create. Twenty nine year old Neva, a midwife at a New England birthing center, has kept secret her own pregnancy from everyone until it is impossible to hide it any longer. Even then she will not share the identity of the father, saying only that there is not one. Her situation causes her grandmother Floss, herself a retired midwife, to contemplate a secret she has held for sixty years. Has she done the right thing? Has she permanently scarred her relationship with her own daughter with this secret? Grace. mother to Neva and daughter of Floss, is super determined the moment she learns of her daughter's pregnancy to find out the identity of the father. Having been raised without a father herself, she wants better for her own grandchild, but soon her actions at a crisis delivery have her creating and keeping her own secrets.
This book read quickly. The pages just seemed to fly by, and I found myself so close to finishing the entire book in one afternoon/evening that I pushed ahead and finished it. I was intrigued by the midwife component to the story, especially Floss's early days in England. That part made me think of the PBS series CALL THE MIDWIVES, and of course Floss's long held secret kept me intrigued. Grace, who is closest to my age, and who is thrilled at the thought of becoming a grandparent, should have been someone with whom I connected, but I didn't. Certainly her work as a midwife carried some drama, but her story fell a little flat, mostly the relationship with her husband. It was supposed to be a strained relationship, one under a lot of stress, but mostly it just seemed a blah, underdeveloped part of the book. I am sure some will disagree. That leaves Neva. I want to like her. After all, she is bringing new life into the world. But everything about her pregnancy, her new romance with Patrick, a stand up doctor, to the slowly revealed details about her past "relationships" reads too contrived to me. I've checked several other reviews on Goodreads, and many confirm my original feelings about Grace. Some also agree with my reaction to Neva, and that surprises me more. I am curious how the age of readers affects the reaction to this book. I would expect that younger readers can accept Hepworth's depiction of Neva much better than someone my age. Mores and society do change, but still I found Neva's story too shallow and too much like a soap opera. Caution a bit of spoiler coming up, but you just have to figure out right away that a pregnant midwife with two other midwives in the family is going to have a crisis delivery situation, far away from a hospital and any medical help except for the midwives, right???