KimN ~ The Birth House

30 09 2009

The Birth House ~ Ami McKay

tbhI REALLY enjoyed this book!  I didn’t really have many expectations about what this book was about, or how good or bad it might be.  I decided to read it because I had heard about it from a few people and thought it could be interested based on the title and cover image alone.

Ami McKay, the author, is Canadian and actually lived in Scots Bay (the Nova Scotia town in which the novel is set) in a home that used to be birth house.   McKay must have found a lot of inspiration in this thought, and I suspect she did a lot of research to create this gem of a story.

I have mentioned before that I like a novel that teaches me about something.  This novel did just that on a number of levels.  It is set in the early 1900s and gives you an incredible sense of being a part of the era and especially what it was like to be a woman at that time.

The story follows Dora Rare, a young woman who grew up in a house full of brothers and was eventually wed to an absolutely awful guy!  Dora’s saving grace was that she grew up under the influence of Miss B – the towns midwife.  Miss B was faithful to Dora since the day she was born.  As Dora grew up, Miss B  passed on her knowledge and experience in midwifery to her.  At the same time that Dora was accepting her role in the town as the midwife, a doctor swept in, built a flashy hospital, and tried to sway all of the men in the town to send their pregnant wives to him.  It was so interesting to read about the way that mid-wives used to work, and how the town split their loyalties between new medicine and the traditional midwife ways.

I highly recommend this novel for a number of reasons.  It is a rich novel – full of Canadian history and vibrant characters… definitely something you don’t want to miss!