I was expecting more of a historical tale to this. When I hear "midwife" I think of Call the Midwife or of women running from one log house to anotherI was expecting more of a historical tale to this. When I hear "midwife" I think of Call the Midwife or of women running from one log house to another in the last 1800s to assist with a birth. There's none of that in this book. It's about modern midwives, about how they are still doing their thing, while facing nursing boards threatening to provoke licenses and arguing with doctors who think they know it all. I found this read very insightful about the lives and careers of modern midwives and what they believe about mother and baby bonding and all that.
Despite it being different from what I expected, I thoroughly enjoyed this story and the women I met within its pages. I zipped through this in two days, dying to know what was going to happen next. There's hospital drama, marital drama, and secrets from the past. There's spousal abuse--a kind I never thought of. There's mother/daughter relationships and above all a strong moral: love is love. Biology has nothing to do with it.
It's very well written too, not overly descriptive or boring or long winded. It is a very good first novel. I'm impressed.
A quick recap for those who need it: Floss was a midwife in the fifties. She has a big secret she's been keeping from her daughter and granddaughter and now partner. It's holding her back from really enjoying her life. Grace is too pushy with her daughter, Neva. This makes Neva steer clear. Grace's drama is about her license, the board. Through her we see some of the hostility between hospital doctors and midwives and the difference in their beliefs. Neva is a modern midwife who toes the line between both worlds by working in a birth center attached to a hospital. She's pregnant and refuses to name the father. Why?
As I said above, very suspenseful, but I confess I had Floss's story figured out around page 100. Yet, Neva, I couldn't quite get it. But this is also where my quibble comes in. While kept in suspense as to who the father of Neva's baby is...it also felt too Jerry Springish as Neva decided first one man then another must be the dad. I mean, just how many men are you bedding in the course of a month, lady? Dang.
That just sort of put me off. I'm all for women taking what they want, when they want, but a nurse should have some more smarts than this. So she doesn't think she's likely to get preggers, I get it, but there are diseases out there. Hello? I'm amazed a woman in the medical profession is that dumb. I really am. To bed miscellaneous men without protection.
The story itself is quite riveting, but the style in which the story is told is very lacking. It's all telling, no showing. It hardly ever tells us whThe story itself is quite riveting, but the style in which the story is told is very lacking. It's all telling, no showing. It hardly ever tells us what the characters' innermost thoughts are, nor does it tell us how the characters' FEEL. It will tell us their facial expression. It will say they are proud. But it does not describe any emotion. Events are also told in rapid succession. In many spots I said, "Wow! That's a big thing and it only took two sentences to tell us?"
He pulled the trigger, exploding Fritz's forehead in all directions. Brain matter splattered all over Hedwig's face and shoulders. Gasping for breath, she held her dead husband.
That's some major action and while I know from the gasping, she must be shocked or terrified or something, it doesn't tell us what or how she feels. Me, I'd be gagging at the feel of brain matter on my cheeks, perhaps even become super aware of it. I could go on. She plans to kill a man and she acts like a robot. Never once does the story tell us what her thoughts are or what she's feeling as she decides to do this. It just tells us she slashed at him, he got up, her knife went in the sofa. That's really it. No emotion or inner thoughts at all. Every character in the story is like this: a robot.
I also found a lot of things preposterous. Two Nazi soldiers show up at her house and kill her husband while taking away her brother. A few months later when both are on the scene again, NEITHER soldier recognizes the apartment where they killed a man, or the woman, even though her brother has been right under their nose every single day since--which should have served as a reminder? Seriously? NEITHER one? And even in the forties, detectives, I'm sure, were savvy enough to check the premises after a murder. As soon as they'd seen nothing was taken or disturbed, they'd know there really hadn't been any Jewish robbers.
And I had to scoff at this: Heidi's heart of gold cared for everyone...
Except Jews, I guess. She was making anti-Jew comments just two kindle pages before that bit. Heart of gold, my patootie.
But Hedwig is really likable and admirable as she refuses to conform to the way of the Nazi party. And I'm just going to stop there. The story just gets more and more preposterous and while I enjoyed it at first, it began to get so ridiculous, it was ruined for me. You cannot shoot the prime minister of England and walk away. No, no, no. Just no.
I didn't walk away from this with nothing though. I did enjoy the first quarter, before things got too preposterous, and I picked up some interesting historical tidbits, such as Hugo Boss being a Nazi. This caught my attention and I discovered he even used POWs to work in his factories. I'm amazed he still has a name today. ...more
All of us book reviewers have had that moment...that moment when we realize we're reading a book simply not for us and a huge part of us doesn't wantAll of us book reviewers have had that moment...that moment when we realize we're reading a book simply not for us and a huge part of us doesn't want the drama of writing a scathing review, but an even bigger part of us is so outraged, irritated, or perturbed, we can't keep our thoughts to ourselves.
I love the story idea. Romance book reviewer and blogger writes a scathing review, goes to a Christmas party, meets a gorgeous author who will only reveal he writes under a pseudonym, and realizes the man she's lusting after is that author she just bashed on her blog. How to get around that? Talk about awkward. I also wanted to read this because the author interviewed me here on Book Babe when she was doing research for this.
I thought it would be predictable. Girls meets boy, lusts after him, has a dilemma (in this case the review/author thing), they get over it, live HEA. But while the HEA is there, the ending threw a twist at me I honestly didn't see coming. Big thumbs up for that!
The story goes a bit overboard with the Christmas stuff--names like Noelle, Merry, Holly, Santo, Rudy, but at the same time the stuff I thought a bit eye-rolling was counteracted with cute or funny bits like falling on a candy cane and just that whole bit with her boss. Her boss and her teeth/nose issue made me laugh out loud and I love a good laugh.
"Maybe I would have had sex with Dave after college back in Columbia, but the first time he hugged me, he squeezed me so hard I passed wind."
Obviousl"Maybe I would have had sex with Dave after college back in Columbia, but the first time he hugged me, he squeezed me so hard I passed wind."
Obviously I got a few laughs from this book. There's more to that scene up there than I've typed. In this book, Lillian, an old woman--would be seventies in this decade--narrates random bits and pieces of her life, mostly bits about her one-night stands, her married lovers, and her boyfriends all over the world. She also talks about her parents and their marriage. What she says makes me think she herself probably balks at marriage. Perhaps not having seen love in a marriage, she doesn't want that for herself.
I liked this book but I must confess in the end, except for chuckling at the windy hug and at Lillian's thoughts on KY gel and driving outfits, I don't see the point of it. I closed each chapter feeling like I was missing something, some great moral. In my eyes, the only moral is that men aren't going to buy the cow if you're giving the milk free. Then again, I also admired Lillian--or I almost did--for just being her own woman and doing as she pleases, society be darned. Though I think she consistently chose losers for her lovers and at times she smothered her own personality to please them. But that is also part of the story's appeal. The narrator is nothing if not honest.
I think, however, what really disappoints me about this book is that Lillian rarely talks about her work. She starts as a typist then moves to..journalist? It was never clear. I'd have preferred less about her lovers and more about her work and travels at some point in the story. And even though it takes place in the sixties and you would think this bed-hopping, free-loving female would be a bit of feminist, there's nothing about the women's rights movement.
This is a very engrossing tale that shows the different types of sisterhood: that which we choose (of the heart) and that which we're born with. TheyThis is a very engrossing tale that shows the different types of sisterhood: that which we choose (of the heart) and that which we're born with. They are bonds of equal strength.
There are two stories here: late 1100s Japan, following a woman soldier (samurai) and her sister of the heart, her lover's wife. The women are very different, one being of home and hearth, one being a fighter. The modern story follows two sisters struggling to find themselves late in their middle age and let the past be in the past. Their childhood has molded them into people they don't always want to be.
We're kept in a lot of suspense with the modern tale. What secret did their mother keep all those years? What is their dad going to use to blackmail Rachel into giving up power of attorney? (Her mother has dementia and is in a home). Will Rachel and her dad make amends? What is going on with Rachel's daughter? This kept me reading even though at times I felt the story dragged. Don't get me wrong; I liked the book, but at the 3/4 point, I just wanted to get the answers and move on. For me the book was longer than it needed to be, for the story it contained.
I especially enjoyed the theme about control. Controlling everything and everyone isn't the answer.
I do have some quibbles.
I think the historical tale...there wasn't enough time spent on it, while the modern tale was way too drawn out. I was apparently supposed to feel this great bond between Yamabuchi and Tomoe, but I really didn't. Their bits were too short for me to really grasp any closeness between them.
The fact that Rachel's parts were first-person present tense, Tomoe's parts were third-person, past tense, and Drew's parts third-person, present tense was very jarring.
Except for Rachel, I didn't find these women very strong. They all submit or lose themselves in a man. After the way that bratty child spoke to Drew at the carnival and the way the kid's father pandered to the child, I'd have run away, fast, not subjected myself to more of that behavior. Quincy is obsessed for a man. Tomoe may be great with a sword but she's weak for a crazy man who doesn't treat her well. She always does his bidding even when she doesn't agree with him. Yamabuchi is somewhat strong now that I think on it. She faces a lot of crap and even though she's in a life she wasn't trained or ready for, she tries her best. Rachel and Drew's mother...I'm not even touching that one. Some things were still not clear to me about her in the end. I get she sold her soul to the devil to have a better life, but why be such a horrid, negligent mother? And I realize she was holding part of herself out of shame, but still...this woman was hard for me to comprehend.
Rachel bucks up in the end, once she finally stops giving her father the power to affect/hurt her. In my eyes, Rachel had the strongest story and moral and strength.