Series: Hope River #3
Published by William Morrow on November 6, 2018
Source: the publisher
Narrator: Tavia Gilbert
Length: 11 hours, 10 minutes
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Welcome back to Hope River in New York Times bestselling author Patricia Harman’s newest novel as midwife Patience Hester, along with her family and friends, face the challenges of the home front during World War II.
The women of Hope River trust midwife Patience Hester, whose skill in delivering babies is known for miles around. But though the Great Depression is behind them, troubles are not, for Europe is at war…and it can only be a matter of time before the U.S. enters the fray.
And while some are eager to join the fight, Patience’s husband, Daniel, is not. Daniel is a patriot—but he saw too much bloodshed during the First World War, and has vowed never to take up arms again.
His stance leaves Patience and their four children vulnerable—to the neighbors who might judge them, and to the government, who imprison Daniel for his beliefs.
Patience must support their family and fight for her husband’s release despite her own misgivings. And with need greater than ever, she must also keep her practice running during this tumultuous time…relying on generous friends, like Bitsy, who has returned to Hope River, stalwart neighbors, and her own indomitable strength to see them all through.
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Hope River Series continues to be one of my favorites and I have waited impatiently for this third installment for what feels like ages. When I received a review copy from the publisher, I was THRILLED because I wanted to see how Patience and Daniel, Becky and Isaac were doing in Union County, West Virginia.
Once A Midwife picks up in November 1941, which is about 5-6 years after The Reluctant Midwife. What will eventually be known as World War II is brewing and everyone in the community is talking about it. Most are eager for the US to become involved and help rid the world of tyranny and then there is Daniel Hester, Patience’s husband. Daniel served in World War I and while he was a hero, the things that he saw and did left an impression on him that he cannot shake. He has sworn that he will never participate in war again and he absolutely means this.
The community forms clubs and groups dedicated to patriotic service but Daniels declines any participation at all. This of course makes people talk and also unfortunately causes friction in his otherwise happy marriage. When Daniel refuses to register for the draft, the law becomes involved and soon Daniel’s wife and children begin paying for his unpopular beliefs.
And then Daniel goes to prison.
I won’t beat around the bush here: Once A Midwife was much harder for me to read the the previous two books in this series. This one doesn’t have the friends-helping-friends vibe that I loved from the two earlier books set during the Great Depression, where the community had to band together or go without and starve. In this book, there was quite a bit of dissension, disagreement, and ill treatment of people with different beliefs and politics, and because Daniel and Patience were on the receiving end of that, it was tough for me to read. I love these two. I’ve followed them across two books previous to this one and over more than a decade of trials, tribulations, and very happy times. So to see them suffer over anything at this point makes me hurt, regardless of belief and politics.
HOWEVER, I had honestly never heard of the term “conscientious objector” before. So to learn that is what Daniel technically is fascinated me. ONCE AGAIN, Patricia Harman gave me this and a ton of other things to learn all about while I was reading. (I love that this series introduces me to parts of history that I otherwise didn’t know.) For example, I had also never heard of the Double V campaign.
As far as birthing and midwifery, which has played a large role in the first two books: Patience is still a midwife, but she is practicing so very little now. Perhaps this is because people are not wanting to use her services because of her husband’s beliefs or perhaps people have moved on to preferring hospitals over midwifery services at this point in history. Either way, there are only a few birthing scenes in this book. Drastically fewer than in the previous books and perhaps this is why the book is titled what it is.
It wouldn’t be a Hope River book without tackling a few other pertinent issues of the time. In particular, I enjoyed the glimpse of how people in this place, during this time, viewed interracial couples and mixed race children.
I love these characters SO MUCH and I love this little close-knit community. I so, so appreciate the continued peek into their lives, even as history has moved from the Great Depression into the World War II-era. But I’m hoping for another installment after this one. Even though this book does end on a good note, I would love to spend more time with Daniel and Patience under less stressful, more happy circumstances. And I would love to spend some more time with Isaac and Becky, who less page time here than I had hoped for. (I am thankful for Bitsy Proudfoot’s space on the page. Love her!)
Like the others, this book can certainly stand alone. But I would highly recommend that readers start at the beginning of this series to see Daniel and Patience in their true element, when they are most themselves and happy, so they’ll fully understand why this period of their lives is so difficult for them and so they’ll know all of the colorful cast of characters as well as I do. They are all so wonderful.
GOOD GOLLY this is one of my favorite series. I know I keep saying that in each review, on every media platform where I review and talk about these books. This one isn’t my very favorite of the series, but that’s because I love the Depression-era Union County community spirit so much and because I generally like reading about World War II less than the Depression. Either way, this is good stuff right here and I want more please!
In the first book, which was told from Patience’s point-of-view, there was a different narrator (Anne Wittman). In this installment, Tavia Gilbert narrates. She does a good job and I enjoyed the audiobook very much, but I always wonder why narrators are switched mid-series when the POV’s remain the same. If I could offer one critique, I would say that the voice used for Bitsy Proudfoot threw me off every time Bitsy spoke. Her character just doesn’t strike me as loud or brash as she was portrayed in this audiobook, so every time she spoke, it pulled me out of the story until her scenes were finished.
Overall, I did enjoy this audio tremendously and I will certainly listen again with future rereads. It was totally worth the credit that I spent on it and I would recommend it to others that are interested.
Title: Once A Midwife by Patricia Harman
Series: Hope River #3
Narrated by: Tavia Gilbert
Length: 11 hours, 10 minutes, Unabridged
Note: Since I have audiobooks for the previous two books in this series and the audiobook is already published at the time of my blog tour review post, I purchased my own audiobook copy of this book with my own money from Audible so I could alternate listening and reading my print copy, as I have previously done with other titles in this series.
My reviews from The Hope River Series:
The Midwife of Hope River | The Reluctant Midwife | Once A Midwife