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Midwives [Abridged, Audiobook] [Audio Cassette]

Chris Bohjalian , Kate Burton
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (500 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 1 1998
4 cassettes / 5 hours
Read by Kate Burton

"Astonishing" - Washington Post Book World

"Superbly crafted and astonishing powerful . . .  It will thrill readers who cherish their worn copies of To Kill a Mockingbird."

On an icy winter night in an isolated house in rural Vermont, a seasoned midwife named Sibyl Danforth takes desperate measures to save a baby's life.  She performs an emergency cesarean section on a mother she believes has died of a stroke.  but what if Sibyl's patient wasn't dead - and Sibyl inadvertently killed her?

As Sibyl faces the antagonism of the law, the hostility of traditional doctors, and the accusations of her own conscience, Midwives engages, moves, and transfixes us as only the very best novels ever do.

"A treasure . . .  It is a rare pleasure when a finely written noel also grips us with sheer storytelling power."
- Portland Oregonian

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From Amazon

On a violent, stormy winter night, a home birth goes disastrously wrong. The phone lines are down, the roads slick with ice. The midwife, unable to get her patient to a hospital, works frantically to save both mother and child while her inexperienced assistant and the woman's terrified husband look on. The mother dies but the baby is saved thanks to an emergency C-section. And then the nightmare begins: the assistant suggests that maybe the woman wasn't really dead when the midwife operated:
Did she perform at least eight or nine cycles as my mother said, or four or five as Asa recalled? That is the sort of detail that was disputable. But at some point within minutes of what my mother believed had been a stroke, after my mother concluded the cardiopulmonary resuscitation had failed to generate a pulse or a breath, she screamed for Asa and Anne to find her the sharpest knife in the house.
In Midwives, Chris Bohjalian chronicles the events leading up to the trial of Sibyl Danforth, a respected midwife in the small Vermont town of Reddington, on charges of manslaughter. It quickly becomes evident, however, that Sibyl is not the only one on trial--the prosecuting attorney and the state's medical community are all anxious to use this tragedy as ammunition against midwifery in general; this particular midwife, after all, an ex-hippie who still evokes the best of the flower-power generation, is something of an anachronism in 1981. Through it all, Sibyl, her husband, Rand, and their teenage daughter, Connie, attempt to keep their family intact, but the stress of the trial--and Sibyl's growing closeness to her lawyer--puts pressure on both marriage and family. Bohjalian takes readers through the intricacies of childbirth and the law, and by the end of Sibyl Danforth's trial, it's difficult to decide which was more harrowing--the tragic delivery or its legal aftermath.

Narrated by a now adult Connie, Midwives moves back and forth in time, fitting vital pieces of information about what happened that night like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle into its complicated plot. As Connie looks back on her mother's trial, she is still trying to understand what happened--not on the night of the disaster--but in the months and years that followed. --Margaret Prior --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In this new tale from the author of the acclaimed Water Witches (LJ 2/1/95), a New England midwife is accused of murder. Film rights were bought by Columbia-Tristar Pictures.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Bojalian has done midwives a HUGE disservice in writing this book. He caricatures midwives, all the while professing to admire them. He has chosen the most extreme situation -- death -- as the central event, & includes a conventional, sensationalistic trial scene. Read carefully & note his alarmist, dark, dank language of risk & danger, the negative cast of all he presents. Oprah, in publicizing this book, falls right into the hands of those who see home birthing as enormously risky. In fact. It is important for readers to know that midwives practice throughout the world, and are the best attendants for childbearing women, especially independent midwives, who know the most about normal, natural birthing. Good midwives celebrate birth, believe in the women they attend, & in their capacities to labor & birth with all their body heart & soul. Oddly, people reading "Midwives" see it as positive. So, new readers, read carefully, thoughtfully, PLEASE. What is the author REALLY saying? Protest the book's aggrandizement!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificently Perfect June 22 2004
By Juana
Chris Bohjalian did an Excellent job writting Midwives. I was enormously shocked to find out that the person writting this book was a man!! They way he used such words as Vulva and the vocabulary were perfect. I have never heard a man know so much about birth. I really had forgotten it was a man writting the book and not a woman!
I recommend this book to anyone and everyone!! It is a Masterpiece in the way that the book draws your attention from the beginning to the end. The character selection does not stay behind at all either. Connie was very independant in the book and the connection that her and her mother had was beyond believe. I would have never thought a girl so young could know so much about a topic that is kept away from kids.
I am not going to say much to not give the book away, but It was great. This book is my favorite so far from any of the summer readings I have done this summer. Oprah could not have chosen any better. High Five Mr. Bohjalian and High Five Oprah...5 BIG STARS.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Birth and Death June 17 2004
Birth and Death
Midwives, by Chris Bohjalian, shakes all preconceptions one might have about the practice of midwifery. Regardless of any bias one might hold, for or against, the story of Vermont midwife, Sibyl Danforth, on trial for the death of one of her patients, brings us up short. With the jury, the reader is forced to examine the evidence. The events unfold, retrospectively, through the eyes of Sibyl's 14-year-old daughter, Connie - a fact which somehow makes the story more poignant and wrenching. This frightened young girl stands to lose her mother and her home, as well as her innocence.
Author Bohjalian deftly gives the reader new background and information only when the story requires it, keeping the suspense from first to last. The characters are believable - if not people you know, people you can respect and to whom you can lend your sympathy. Your heart will ache for all the innocent victims as the story plays out.
Oprah Winfrey chose well for her Book Club. Read this book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Read!! May 17 2004
I don't understand the negative reviews for this book! Mr. Bohjalian writes from a female POV and on top of that manages to do a fair job on it. Who says a male can't understand the female mind? The writing was a bit simplistic but I feel that this was due to the fact that at times we were looking on at the events of the story from a child and then eventually a teenagers POV. They are not going to be as articulate as an adult. In this I feel that Mr. Bohjalian is true to the character.
This story as stated earlier is from the POV of Connie. Connie is an adult that looks back on a situation that effected who she was and would become not only as a woman but as a professional. Connie's mom is arrested and tried after a home-birth that ends in the death of the laboring mother. What follows is a little look at one side of this tragic event that was not only thought provoking but moving.
I found myself pulled in from the very beginning and as a result I read this book in one day. This book doesn't beat up on Midwives or the choice of home-birthing. Nor is this book scary or overly graphic in nature. Mr. Bohjalian is a very talented author and I feel that he has done justice to this topic. The characters that make up this story are just as important as the storyline itself.
I must admit that I'm not much of a book club reader instead I read books that interst me so I have not jumped on the "bookclub bandwagon" but I found this book to really be the exception.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Destined to Become a Classic Jan. 4 2004
This quiet, suspenseful drama almost takes one by surprise at how entertaining and readable this novel is. The back of the book describes the story of Sibyl Danforth: a lay-midwife who, in the early 1980s, performs a Cesarean section on a possible living woman to save her unborn child. The story, however, is told through the eyes of Sibyl's daughter, Connie, (Constance) and so the book really becomes both their stories.
While her mother stands trial for involuntary manslaughter, faces antagonism from the traditional medical community, and her own doubting mind, young Connie grows up, experiencing most things a fourteen year old girl would: boys, friends, school, boys...
This book is touted as a mix of suspense/court-room drama/feminist fiction (even though, inexplicably it was penned by a man!) and a score of other familiar themes. However, this book is unique and unlike anything I've read before. This is a truly human story, and can be enjoyed by anyone who enjoys a good story.
In one review, People magazine likened Chris Bohjalian's novel to To Kill a Mockingbird. And while, only time will tell if Bohjalian's novel has the essence, scope, or vision of a true classic, I have reason to believe that that comparison is not far off the mark.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars What would you have done in Sybil's place?
A very entertaining book, speaking of a series of difficult decisions to be taken in a split second and against a further series of negative circumstances surrounding the... Read more
Published on Sept. 4 2007 by I LOVE BOOKS
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I have ever read!
What a great story. Told by the teenage daughter, this book has everything and keeps you interested until the end. Read more
Published on June 5 2007 by Louise Beauregard
4.0 out of 5 stars Midwives- New England Novel
Midwives is a gut-wrenching novel about Midwifery in rural New England. Midwife, Sibyl Danforth, through the eyes of her daughter. Read more
Published on June 23 2004 by Doug Welch
4.0 out of 5 stars Midwives, how disturbing
If there is any book that exemplifies self-doubt and innocence, it is Chris Bohjalian's Midwives. The story is told by a grown woman about the most important moment in her life... Read more
Published on June 21 2004 by "icerushz"
5.0 out of 5 stars Drama Drama Drama
Chris Bohjalian did a great job with this book. The life of a midwife occupation and the risks they take everyday to make women feel comfortable in their homes was beautifully... Read more
Published on June 17 2004 by Sarah Stevens
5.0 out of 5 stars New England Novel
I really enjoyed reading this book. I was really impressed with the form of narration that this book was written in. Read more
Published on June 17 2004 by Jenny Comers
4.0 out of 5 stars Read this if you want
This was an entertaining book about Sybil Danforth, a midwife. There are tons of high and low points, and there never really is a dull moment. Read more
Published on June 17 2004 by Kevin Liu
4.0 out of 5 stars Male acceptance
froma guy point of view, i was truly engaged with this novel. From the begining with the word "Vulva" i was stuck ready. Read more
Published on June 17 2004 by Ronald Harvey
5.0 out of 5 stars A Rollercoaster Ride!
Chris Bohjalian's Midwives was a beautifully written narrative with the power to hold the reader's full attention from start to finish. Read more
Published on June 16 2004 by Patty
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing Until the End
From the beginning, up until the end, this novel was an intriguing emotional drama that kept me enthralled. Read more
Published on June 16 2004 by Lynsey Reiss
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