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Saturday, September 26, 2020

Appalachian Midwifery Novel Engaging and Uplifting

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Ashley Tolliver is a 29-year-old nurse-midwife who descends from a long line of women dedicated to caring for Appalachian mothers and babies.  Everyone in the small community of Brooksburg, Virginia, knows they can trust her to treat them with kindness, discretion, and skill.  Although Ashley longs to attend medical school, she's as loyal to her patients as they are to her.  They need her more than she needs an M.D.

In the six years Ashley has been working as a midwife, she's sure she's seen it all.  Then a young mother is abducted minutes after giving birth in Ashley's home office.  Bleeding profusely, the new mom needs to be in the hospital, as does her newborn.  Desperate to get the pair the emergency medical attention they need, Ashley vows to find them.

Ashley's in the middle of dealing with the crisis when Hunter McDermott shows up at her door.  A 32-year-old engineer from Arlington, he's searching for the Appalachian birth mother he never knew he had.  As she helps the handsome adoptee uncover the real story of his birth and ancestry, Ashley finds herself reconsidering both her professional goals and the possibilities of an unexpected romance.  Could everything she's ever wanted really be waiting for her just beyond the hills her family has always called home?  Does she have the courage to put her needs before her patients' for once?  Or will she forever be the woman who delivers children for others but never has a family of her own?

Ever since Call the Midwife aired, people have become fascinated with the profession—and by "people," I mean me.  I'm also drawn to stories about Appalachia, so The Mountain Midwife by Laurie Alice Eakes was kind of a no-brainer read for me.  Did I end up adoring the novel?  No.  Did I enjoy it overall?  I did.  Although I found Ashley's sometimes holier than thou attitude annoying, she's still a brave, dedicated, hardworking heroine for whom I had no trouble rooting.  The novel's setting intrigued me, of course, and I appreciated Eakes' sympathetic but balanced portrayal of Appalachia's hill people.  Plot-wise, The Mountain Midwife is engaging and compelling.  When I picked this book up, I didn't realize it was a Christian novel; thankfully, the book's religious elements are mostly subtle and not too preachy.  Just the way I prefer them.  On the whole, then, The Mountain Midwife worked for me as it's clean, uplifting, and entertaining.  I'll definitely be on the lookout for more from Eakes.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman as well as Call the Midwife, which is based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence, scenes of peril, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find


  1. A midwife in Appalachia...what's not to like? :)

  2. An interesting plot, for sure, Susan. Midwifery is not something I've ever run into personally, nor have I known anyone who used such a service...But...just a couple of days ago I was driving in Houston and spotted a car adorned with advertisements for a small company providing midwifery services here. I was surprised to see it, to say the least.

    1. Same. I tend to think of it as an antiquated profession. Interesting that it was being advertised in modern-day Houston!

  3. I am currently watching the latest season of Call the Midwife and loving every minute of it. This novel seems like it has so much promise (reminds me a little of the Book Women in Kentucky). Too bad it didn't live up to the expectations.

    1. It's such a great show! It makes me laugh, it makes me cry ...

      Yes, BOOK WOMAN is a good comparison. THE MOUNTAIN MIDWIFE wasn't as good as I wanted it to be, but I still really enjoyed it.

  4. This sounds like an intriguing story with a few plotlines to it. I am definitely adding this one to my TBR, it ticks a lot of boxes for me. Nice review Susan.


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