The Secrets of Midwives by Sally Hepworth
St. Martin’s Press, February 10, 2015.
320 pages, $29,99.
I do not read much commercial “women’s fiction” (How I hate the marketing term for this genre of fiction). I gave this one a try because it was described as a family saga that centers on midwifery. The book features three generations of midwives: Neva, her mother Grace, and her grandmother Floss. You’ll rip through the fast-paced, alternating chapters featuring each women’s point of view.
Unfortunately, the story of each woman was thin. Neva announces she is pregnant but keeps the father’s identity a “secret”. That character quickly becomes entangled in the plot of a Harlequin romance. Grace is an absurd, unbelievable character obsessed with finding a partner for her pregnant daughter. Those chapters quickly became a chore to read. Floss is perhaps the most nuanced character, but her “big” secret is rather easy to figure out early on in the book. The set-up to her big reveal is just too obvious.
If you are interested in midwifery, the author does a good job of incorporating birthing practices, details of deliveries, and the emotional journey of mothers. If you enjoy light reads and don’t roll your eyes at awkward similes like “my throat clamped shut like a preterm cervix” and “her tangled hair trailing after her like a leashed puppy,” you might just appreciate this book.
*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.*