Series: Hope River #2
Published by William Morrow on March 3, 2015
Narrator: Heather Henderson
Length: 11 hours, 32 minutes
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The USA Today bestselling author of The Midwife of Hope River returns with a heartfelt sequel, a novel teeming with life and full of humor and warmth, one that celebrates the human spirit.
The Great Depression has hit West Virginia hard. Men are out of work; women struggle to feed hungry children. Luckily, Nurse Becky Myers has returned to care for them. While she can handle most situations, Becky is still uneasy helping women deliver their babies. For these mothers-to-be, she relies on an experienced midwife, her dear friend Patience Murphy.
Though she is happy to be back in Hope River, time and experience have tempered Becky’s cheerfulness-as tragedy has destroyed the vibrant spirit of her former employer Dr Isaac Blum, who has accompanied her. Patience too has changed. Married and expecting a baby herself, she is relying on Becky to keep the mothers of Hope River safe.
But becoming a midwife and ushering precious new life into the world is not Becky’s only challenge. Her skills and courage will be tested when a calamitous forest fire blazes through a Civilian Conservation Corps camp. And she must find a way to bring Isaac back to life and rediscover the hope they both need to go on.
Full of humor and compassion, The Reluctant Midwife is a moving tribute to the power of optimism and love to overcome the most trying circumstances and times, and is sure to please fans of the poignant Call the Midwife series.
The Reluctant Midwife picks up about 5-ish years after The Midwife of Hope River, still in Union County, West Virginia. The story focuses on Nurse Becky Myers and her ex-boss, Dr. Isaac Blum. This book reads just fine as a standalone, but in my opinion it is much better if you’ve read the first book because the main characters from that story play major roles in this one and it is nice to have their backstory. Both Becky and Isaac were secondary characters in the first book.
Becky Myers was previously a home health/public health nurse, but she left West Virginia to work with Dr. Isaac Blum when he moved his private practice up north. As The Reluctant Midwife begins, Dr. Blum has suffered a tragic event that has left him disabled; in the absence of anyone else to care for him, Becky has become Isaac’s primary caregiver. Without an income from Dr. Blum’s medical practice, they have lost everything. So they have moved back to West Virginia in hopes of starting over and finding some type of work or help or…something. Becky is just looking for something.
When the story begins, Becky is a little bit frustrated and tired from all of her caregiving responsibilities and from the lack of resources they have. Becky is used to having a paycheck and a place to live, so being essentially homeless and broke is new for her. When she gets back to West Virginia, she has to rely on the goodness of neighbors to help her out, which is tough for her. So I think all of this makes it hard to get close to her in the first part of the book…or at least, she is a little tougher to love than Patience Murphy was (in the first book). Becky is able to find a little bit of work helping Patience out with midwifery duties since Patience is pregnant with lots of responsibilities, but Becky has always been uncomfortable with childbirth. (the “reluctant” midwife – get it?) Patience is a patient (*wink, wink*) teacher, though, and she has Becky doing a great job delivering babies on her own before too long.
But this book is less about birthing and midwifery than the first one. Becky actually does all types of nursing duties. In addition to helping Patience out with local midwifery, Becky is actually able to secure a position with the local CCC (Civil Conservation Corps) as their Camp Nurse. While she is sometimes paid for her work delivering babies, she earns a steady income working for the CCC. This is a huge relief for Becky as she is primary breadwinner in the household with Dr. Blum unable to work.
Here are some of my favorite things about this book:
- Dr. Blum, while not my favorite character in the beginning of the book, makes this incredible transformation as a character throughout the story. I’m not only talking about his physical transformation, but I’m talking about his entire character development. By the end of the story, I love him as much as I love Daniel Hester, the vet, from the first book. So, so good.
- Speaking of Daniel the vet: he and Patience the midwife have an enormous role in this story. This isn’t one of those series where the previous main characters just happen to show up in one scene in the following books. Patience and Daniel are HUGE in this story. So if you have read the first book and love them, you’ll be OVER THE MOON with the continuation of their story in this installment. If you haven’t read the first book, what are you waiting for? They are absolutely delightful. Truly. I adore them both.
- While I have a special interest in birthing and midwifery, it really does not take up as much of this book as you would think given the title. So I think this book has a much broader appeal to people that aren’t as interested in, you know, birthing scenes. There are still some in here, but I think the overall nursing and medical portions of this book are largely situated on taking care of people with limited resources and/or away from a medical facility. Becky is “reluctant” because midwifery isn’t her first choice of work in the nursing field.
- I still love the Depression-era West Virginia setting. Very well done.
- The journal entries. If you read it, then you know.
This story is a great visual on just how difficult a time this particular part of the country had recuperating after the Stork Market crashed, during the height of the Great Depression. During the time that the Dust Bowl was occurring elsewhere. During FDR’s New Deal (1933-1936). These characters are wonderful and they are perfect examples of what community looks like when it leans on one another and takes care of one another.
I cannot say enough GOOD THINGS about this series. I love love love rereading these books. Total enjoyment.
The Reluctant Midwife audiobook had a different narrator than The Midwife of Hope River-I’m assuming they went with someone else because the character’s point-of-view switched from one book to the next. Heather Henderson narrated this book and did a nice job as Becky. This is another one that I’m glad that I purchased thru Audible and will listen to again in the future.
Title: The Reluctant Midwife by Patricia Harman
Series: Hope River #2
Narrated by: Heather Henderson
Length: 11 hours, 32 minutes, Unabridged
My reviews from The Hope River Series:
The Midwife of Hope River | The Reluctant Midwife | Once A Midwife