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The Secrets of Midwives


The Secrets of Midwives

Three generations of midwives share their stories in this first-person narration that begins on Neva Bradley's 29th birthday, which she is observing with her mother and maternal grandmother.

Neva delivers babies in a hospital birthing center. She is a private person, very unlike her mother Grace, who seems to run on drama and chutzpah. She delivers babies in the patients’ homes or in a birthing suite in her own home, and has very little use for obstetricians. Neva thinks of Grace as an aging hippie. Floss, an octogenarian, delivered babies in England and America for over 40 years. She is a calming presence who dispenses hard-earned wisdom to Grace and Neva, both of whom need it. 

The very first secret revealed is Neva's pregnancy. Naturally this causes a flurry of questions that creates more secrets because Neva will not reveal any information about the father. Another secret: Is there the slightest possibility that she is not sure who the father is? She is determined to raise the baby alone, or at least she says she is.

"THE SECRETS OF MIDWIVES is very well researched and nicely written, the characters are credible but not too predictable, and the story moves along rapidly."

Neva has an ongoing platonic and complicated relationship with Patrick, a pediatrician at the hospital. Grace has been reported by a doctor for possible questionable practices, so her license is suspended, pending the outcome of the investigation. In secret (there are so many secrets), she delivers four babies. To compound this secret, she is paid in cash, and her husband is livid when he finds her stash of cash, insisting that now they're tax evaders as well. Floss has a minor heart attack. She is keeping a huge secret from her female partner and her family. It's well known that Floss crossed the Atlantic with two-week-old Grace in 1954. She concocted a story that her young husband was killed in a farming accident. This story hides the biggest secret in the book. Floss finally decides to reveal the truth, although she is quite aware it may cause a huge rift in her relationship with Grace.

A blizzard is brewing, and Neva is in labor with a premature baby --- or so everyone thinks. It is assumed that the baby is breech and that a C-section will be needed. But there is no way Neva can get to the hospital or for a doctor to reach her. By the time this page-turner ends, the well-kept secrets have all come tumbling out.

THE SECRETS OF MIDWIVES is very well researched and nicely written, the characters are credible but not too predictable, and the story moves along rapidly. Fans of the popular PBS series “Call the Midwife” are certain to enjoy Sally Hepworth’s debut novel as well.

Reviewed by Carole Turner on March 13, 2015

The Secrets of Midwives
by Sally Hepworth

  • Publication Date: December 29, 2015
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
  • ISBN-10: 1250051916
  • ISBN-13: 9781250051912