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The Midwife of Hope River

Seeking refuge from the law in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, Patience Murphy sets out as a midwife in the wake of the 1929 stock-market crash. Armed with a birth satchel and what confidence she can muster, she delivers babies for blacks and whites who can no longer afford a doctor, accepting payment in chickens and flour and the occasional coin. Harman, herself a midwife, transports the reader to another time and place in this quiet story of a white woman who fights to usher life into an impoverished, prejudiced world. As Patience struggles to overcome her dark past, she opens her heart to Daniel, a lonely veterinarian, and her home to Bitsy, a black servant who becomes her apprentice and close companion, rousing the attention of the Klan. There’s a whole lot of birthing going on in The Midwife of Hope River, but don’t let that dissuade you from reading it. The author’s love for the profession shines through in this testament to the power of women. A first novel well worth attention. --Diane Holcomb