The Midwife of Hope River is going on my list of Top Reads for 2020. Stuck in a reading stand-still and searching for something of substance, I came across the Hope River series on a “feminist” website and a must read book for women. From the first page to the last I became immersed in the turn of the century hardships of “Patience,” a woman fleeing from her past, making her way as a mid-wife – a calling she never personally had for herself but one she fell into by chance – as she grows into a true Appalachian woman.
Rarely has a character resonated with me as much as Patience did in this book. I adored her, her strength, her convictions, her humor. She was everything I want to be as a woman. I also learned a great deal though Harman’s writing. Fact checking everything, I found that the reader will learn about the horrors of coal mining, the Union Wars, the desperation of the era between the world wars leading up to the “great depression.” These were horrific times for people all around the world and Harman brings them into our reality making what we are experiencing in 2020 seem quite trivial in comparison. I needed that comparison. There are additional characters in Hope River including a love interest of Patience and her companion, a young African American girl who has come to live with her after being “dismissed” from a wealthy white family’s home after the market crash. We are witness to the egregious rise of the Klan in the area and the horrors that they can reign down upon innocent people with their violence and hate. In all, it is a marvelous book, perfectly written in tone and emotion, one which I cannot recommend highly enough.