Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Midwives by Chris Bohjalian

Midwives by Chris Bohjalian

In the middle of an ice storm in rural Vermont, Charlotte Bedford goes into labour with her trusted midwive, Sibyl Danforth at her side. After 10 hours of pushing, Charlotte is no further and Sibyl attempts to call an ambulance to take her to a hospital but the lines have been taken down by the ice storm. Taking Sibyl in her car also proves impossible with all the ice on the road. A few more hours of labour seems to cause Sibyl to stroke and no matter how much CPR Sibyl performs, she can't bring Charlotte back. Sibyl then focuses on saving the baby that is still alive within Charlotte.

As soon as the roads clear and the medics come out to Charlotte's house, it's clear the Sibyl requires a lawyer. The police seem to think that Sibyl caused Charlotte's death. Told partially from Sibyl's journal and mostly from her daughter's perspective, this book shows how a family strains under the weight of a criminal trial for something that isn't 100% clear.

This book was very easy to get into and it was easy to relate to Connie, Sibyl's daughter. I didn't find this to be a typical Oprah book, which usually I find to be about woman who have been done wrong by men. In this case, it's a very fuzzy line between right and wrong. An interesting moral question is presented to the reader and I'm sure each person reading has a different opinion about how the trial will end.

The ending to the book provided a perfect final touch. A great Oprah read!

First Line: "Throughout the long summer before my mother's trial began, and then during those crisp days in the fall when her life was paraded publicly before the country - her character lynched, her wisdom impugned - I overheard much more than my parents realized, and I understood more than they would have liked."



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