The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman | Review

Posted November 24, 2018 by Asheley in review / 0 Comments

The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman
The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman | ReviewThe Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman
Series: Hope River #1
Published by William Morrow on August 28, 2012
Pages: 382
Source: Purchased
Narrator: Anne Wittman
Length: 12 hours, 4 minutes
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Midwife Patience Murphy has a gift: a talent for escorting mothers through the challenges of bringing children into the world. Working in the hardscrabble conditions of Appalachia during the Depression, Patience takes the jobs that no one else wants, helping those most in need—and least likely to pay. She knows a successful midwifery practice must be built on a foundation of openness and trust—but the secrets Patience is keeping are far too intimate and fragile for her to ever let anyone in.

Honest, moving, and beautifully detailed, Patricia Harman's The Midwife of Hope River rings with authenticity as Patience faces nearly insurmountable difficulties. From the dangerous mines of West Virginia to the terrifying attentions of the Ku Klux Klan, Patience must strive to bring new light and life into an otherwise hard world.


The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman is one of my favorite books from one of my favorite series, and Patience Murphy is one of my all-time favorite characters.

I love stories set in Appalachia, Depression-era stories, and stories with characters that are nurses. This story has all of those things and is one of the most enjoyable books that I’ve ever read, reread, and listened to.

Patience Murphy is one of the local midwives in Union County, West Virginia, where the economy is terrible and people are desperate. She provides one of the most basic and needed services to the people in the area whether they can pay or not. Patience helps deliver babies across all socioeconomic classes in the area because women in every class have babies. She does not discriminate. She is sometimes paid for her services, but sometimes she isn’t, and it is never enough. Often she is given something in trade in lieu of payment, because everyone is suffering in the Depression.

I love that through Patience, we get to see a slice of life at this place, during this time, and we get to see how several different groups lived: the wealthy and semi-wealthy in town, the poorest of the poor in the mining camps, and the various non-white groups that picked on each other. Each of these groups used Patience’s services in some way. I love that there were normal births and there were births with varying complications, just like in hospitals and birthing centers today. Reading about these different birth issues and the ways that Patience dealt with them made me realize how similar birthing and women’s issues have been for many years, with the difference being the technology that we have now.

The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman

This story is more than birthing scenes, though. There are race relations, there is friendship, there is Patience helping Daniel out with some of his veterinary calls, there are a few scenes talking about unions and social justice. Two of my favorite non-birth things about this book are the relationship between Patience and Bitsy Proudfoot, her black assistant, and the friendship/emerging relationship between Patience and Daniel Hester, the local vet. Patience has a difficult time allowing people to get close to her because of some things in her past – things that she did, actually – so it is really wonderful to see her grow close to some of the people in the area while they are all living under the stressful circumstances of the poor economy and strained race relations.

I love the visuals that I get when I read this story. I love the different people, the secondary cast. I love love love Daniel Hester, who has his own set of issues but is knowledgeable and kind and willing to help Patience with any and everything when she has no one else to help her. I love the way the author penned real people and events into this fiction story; it is fun for me to go back and read about them and look at old pictures on the internet.

This really is one of my favorite series. I do love Americana-type stories set in Appalachia more than just about anything.

Audiobook Notes:

I’ll listen to this one over and over again in the future-I’m sure of it. Anne Wittman did a great job narrating Patience’s story. I think it was well worth the credit that I spent on it and I would recommend it to those who have an interest in Depression-era Appalachian history and those who are interested in midwifery.

Title: The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman
Series: Hope River #1
Narrated by: Anne Wittman
Publisher: HarperAudio
Length: 12 hours, 4 minutes, Unabridged

View all my reviews on Goodreads

My reviews from The Hope River Series:
The Midwife of Hope River | The Reluctant Midwife | Once A Midwife


About Patricia Harman

Patricia Harman Author Photo

Patricia Harman, CNM, got her start as a lay midwife on rural communes and went on to become a nurse-midwife on the faculties of Ohio State University, Case Western Reserve University, and West Virginia University. She is the author of two acclaimed memoirs and three novels: the bestselling The Midwife of Hope River, The Reluctant Midwife and The Runaway Midwife. She has three sons and lives near Morgantown, West Virginia.

Photo by Callie Lindsey Photography


About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!


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