In “The Mountain Midwife” Laurie Alice Eakes asks us what makes a family and a community in crafting a story where these two themes play pivotal roles for the characters.
Ashley Tolliver descends from a long line of Appalachian midwives and now she is left behind by her family, who have moved away to pursue medical careers.
Hunter McDermott finds out that he’s adopted after a mysterious phone call from his mother, asking him to help his sister.
“The Mountain Midwife” is a lovely tale, written with great skill, about these two characters and the actions that pull them into this small mountain community.
For Ashley, the community is her family. All the women, she has assisted in birthing and their families rich or poor. For Hunter, his thoughts about the family unit are challenged, but he instantly has a connection and sense of responsibility to his biological mother.
The Appalachian Mountains are a beautiful backdrop, while the characters try to navigate the tumultuous landscape of their lives.
“The Mountain Midwife” makes the second book about a midwife that I’ve read in a row, and there is violence at the onset of both. In “The Mountain Midwife”, Ashley help a young woman deliver a baby, leaving the mother hemorrhaging and in need of a hospital, but then the woman leaves in a rush. Yet, I would characterize “The Mountain Midwife” as a dramatic story, not a suspense novel.
I also found the factual information about midwifery interesting, because it is different than in Denmark. In Denmark, midwives are employed at hospitals and they are the primary caregivers for birthing women. Only in the case of complications, are medical doctors involved. The underlying principle is, that birthing women aren’t sick, they are giving birth, which is a natural process. The less-than-easy relationship between Ashley as a midwife and the medical personnel at the hospital in contrast.