The Birth House: A Novel by Ami McKay is currently on everyone’s “best books” list for 2006. Have you read it yet? If not, you should. Really. Go buy it or reserve it online at your library. I’ll wait.
This is a beautiful book about a young girl/woman as she grows up in Nova Scotia, Canada during WWI. She is apprenticed by the local midwife, and learns from her. This apprenticeship is not exactly a prime assignment – the midwife is thought to be akin to a witch, but there are too many mouths to feed in Dora’s home (the protagonist), and she doesn’t have many marriage prospects, so off she goes.
Dora and her midwife mentor cope with challenges from the community and from a new obstetrician who moves into the area and deems women “hysterical”. I especially loved a passage in which the doctor told a pregnant woman that morning sickness is just women wanting attention from their husbands. Yeesh.
There are so many wonderful stories, unexpected twists and turns, and fabulous passages within the book that there is no way for me to adequately describe it. However, the book does include pregnancy loss, so I would not recommend it to anyone who is currently pregnant.
It was a beautifully told story, with wonderful characters that were really brought to life in the pages of the book. I was so sad when the book finished – I wanted more! I hope you enjoy it just as much. It’s a beautiful read.