Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Midwives Midwives by Chris Bohjalian

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sybil Danforth has been a lay midwife for years with much success and happiness in her profession. On a hideously stormy night she performs a C-section on a woman she believes to have died of a stroke. She is prosecuted for this when doubts arise and people question whether the woman was still alive when she performed the C-section and inadvertently caused her death.

Sybil is a good midwife; she is cautious, she has a back-up Ob-gyn to help if needed and doesn't hesitate to transfer her mothers to the hospital if the situation gets sticky. The weather this night is so icy that Sybil can't even make it to her car without bruises and a sprained ankle, so transferring to the hospital was out of the question.

This book made me think about decisions I make in life. Sybil's decision to cut into a woman to save the baby's life is a decision that will change the course of her life. She was acting in good faith, but she has to question whether this was the right thing to do. Would anyone have cared about this if the baby and mother just died? Her actions, though welll-meant cause the heartache of several others including her own daughter.

This book gets three stars from me for the fantastic prose and the unique way that the book is written from the point of view of Sybil's daughter. Sybil is writing this looking back from years later and there are bits from Sybil's diaries that help the reader understand her as a person. The court scenes are interesting and I like the way that the author creates some suspense and anticipation for the end . I didn't guess what was going to happen and was surprised by the ending.

For all that this is a well-written book, I am feeling decidedly glum. I just finished the book and it wasn't a happy escape for me. Definitely a read to save for a time when you would like some quiet reflection on ethics and how life begins. View all my reviews >>

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