Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Midwife's Choice - Delia Parr

A little while ago I was introduced to Delia Parr through book 1 of her "At Home in Trinity" series.
When I was offered the chance to read book number 2, I hesitated.

I enjoyed the first of the series on first read but it didn't leave any discernible impact on my memory. I remembered the author and remember my dissatisfaction with the open ended nature of the narrative. I was a little stunned, to be honest, as I usually remember the high points of a book upon reflection and not my mixed reviews.

The pull to see what happened was strong enough that I found myself snuggled down with The Midwife's Choice  this past week and what a ride!

Any reservations I had about this series flew out the window with the second installation and I know this is a plot I'll be reflecting on for some time to come.

The Midwife's Choice picks up the story of Widow Cade and the growing town of Trinity. Martha Cade's daughter has returned after an extended absence and Cade is sitting on a precipice as change permeates all layers of her life. With her future profession at risk, her community under change, her home gone and her family facing dispersal, thoughts regarding the future can no longer be pushed aside. Wisdom comes from the strangest places though as wealthy women, beautifully wonderful old sisters, salty sea dogs, orphans, and a mysterious woman all find their stories weaving together into the tapestry that is Trinity.

First off, I loved the characters in book 2. Personal favourites Fern and Ivy were given a far more prominent role to my great delight (these ladies are amazing and just shone in every scene for me). I found their plot dovetailed nicely into new character Nancy's providing multiple angles from which to observe the central issue.

I was also pleased to see further development for the characters of Wil and Samuel. The series strength really lies in the wonderful characters. Even though Widow Cade is the unifying main character giving readers their "inside" eyes into Trinity the depth and breadth of the many characters makes Trinity leap off the pages.


I don't usually post spoilers in these reviews as, I feel, they take away from the enjoyment of watching the plot unfold but for this one occasion I am making an exception. Two different storylines within The Midwife's Choice focus on the realities of domestic abuse. Not a topic often willingly included in your typical women's fiction in evangelical circles. That said, I was impressed with the sensitivity that Parr broached the subject and the honesty with which she portrayed it. I cried for the effects on poor Peter, I marvelled at the resources of the sisterhood. I felt Widow Cade's struggle to understand and find the courage to stand up for her patient.
I was also impressed at how Parr naturally broached the temptation for weakeness behind false obedience in the church and the struggle of survivors to get away from these dangerous situations. It's books like this that include serious topics that help pave the way to honest and needed conversations.

*End Spoilers*

If you read book 1 and enjoyed it, you need to read book 2! This is a thoughtful, engaging, story that managed to hook me despite my prejudices and negative views going into page 1. Although darker that The Midwife's Tale, The Midwife's Choice balances that with depth, natural character development, and characters who come to life with each page.

5 out of 5 stars

I received this book for free in exchange for my honest opinion through Nuts About Books. The opinions expressed are entirely my own