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5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificently Perfect
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...
Published on June 22 2004 by Juana

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Readers beware! This book is definitely ANTI-midwifery!
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...
Published on Nov. 11 1998 by Jane Pincus


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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Readers beware! This book is definitely ANTI-midwifery!, Nov. 11 1998
By 
Jane Pincus (Roxbury, VT United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Midwives (Paperback)
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 (Salem, MA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Midwives (Paperback)
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
By 
Sharon L. MacCartney (Peterborough, NH United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Midwives (Paperback)
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
By 
Kristi Ahlers (Illinois) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Midwives (Paperback)
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 review is from: Midwives (Paperback)
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Good read, June 2 2003
This review is from: Midwives (Paperback)
Sibyl Danforth, a Vermont lay-midwife, attends a homebirth that goes horribly wrong when the laboring mother apparently dies. Sibyl makes a hard decision and performs a C-section on the apparently dead woman to save her baby. The story is based upon the ramifications of this decision - because Sibyl's apprentice and the laboring woman's husband claim that the woman wasn't dead when Sibyl performs the C-section. Thus Sibyl ends up being charged by the state with involuntary manslaughter, under the claim that the C-section Sibyl performed to save the baby's life killed it's mother.
Midwives is told from the point of view of Sibyl's daughter, Connie, who is fourteen at the time of the tradgedy. As a grown woman and ob/gyn, Connie is still trying to come to terms with what happened to her family in the months after the 'bad birth'.
The writing in this book is good, sticking to a simpler style while keeping the tension tight. The author uses the harsh Vermont weather to invoke a bleak atmosphere that serves as the backdrop to the stress that Connie's family will go through. Unlike other books where mood plays an important part, Midwives is not unalterably sad. Instead, it is stressful. The reader can feel the pressure mounting upon Connie and her family as the story move along. The story is also broken up by bits of humor, such as Connie's experiences with her first boyfriend, and the sounds of zippers being undone in the courtroom when a baby needs to be fed. Women who have nursed their babies will relate to the scene of a reporter looking at the wall behind a nursing mother's head while she is being interviewed.
The author does an excellent job of demonstrating the ongoing animosity between the mainstream medical community and those who choose so-called alternative medical options (homebirthing, nursing children past 1 year, disuse of vaccines, etc.). This is a real issue for many people and this book will do some good in bringing this to the attention of a wider audience.
At the same time, though, people within the 'alternative' community may not take kindly to their being portrayed as a bunch of acid-dropping ex-hippies (which represents only a tiny portion) instead of people who are highly educated and empowering themselves to make their own medical decisions.
Readers from both mainstream and alternative schools of thought will enjoy this book. Some people will be angered and outraged by the ending of this book. Some will love the shocking twist at the end. Some will feel betrayed. Everyone will enjoy the book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Captivating..., Feb. 23 2003
This review is from: Midwives (Paperback)
Midwives chronicles the story of Sybil Danforth, a Vermont lay-midwife. While Sybil has had years of experience "catching" babies, one cold and icy night in Vermont, something goes tragically wrong and she is forced to perform an emergency cesarian section with a kitchen knife in the home of one of her patients, saving the baby but losing it's mother. The book, told from the point of view of Sybil's then teenage daughter Connie, follows the investigation and court trial which ensues after the tragic event occurs.
Although I found Midwives to be a little slow at the start, Chris Bohjalian develops all of the novel's characters quite well and I found myself becoming more and more emotionally involved with both Sybil and Connie and the novel progressed. I also enjoyed how the author interjected excerpts from Sybil's diary throughout the story, adding another perspective for the reader. Right down to literally the very last word of the very last page, Midwives will keep the reader guessing and hanging on for the next chapter. Not only did I find this novel entertaining, but also quite informative from both a medical and legal standpoint. A great find!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mysterious Truths, Truthful Mysteries, Feb. 14 2003
By 
Lawrence E. Wilson (Mayfield, East Sussex, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Midwives (Paperback)
The heart of this novel is the sometimes-shocking, sometimes-loving story of Sibyl, an experienced midwife who tragically loses a patient during childbirth while saving the life of the baby. A trial ensues, the details of which are told mostly in flashbacks from the point-of-view of Sibyl's then-teenage daughter, and the tension builds with each chapter (the verdict is not revealed until very near the end).
This is not just a mystery whodunit, however, as much as a coming-of-age story---not just for the teenage girl, but also for Sibyl, her husband, and others. Chapters begin with excerpts from Sibyl's diaries, and in the contrast between these entries and the main narrative we begin to glimpse the subtlety of truth---how it varies from person to person and situation to situation. As in Bohjalaian's previous novel, the excellent Water Witches, the Vermont countryside is lovingly evoked. the landscape almost becomes a character with moods and impulses---the icy roads of winter, the sudden onset of a thunderstorm, the blazing red of autumn trees, the tiny villages, and the large lake that seems to mirror Subyl's humors. Midwives offers much to ponder---highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A controversial Book, Feb. 6 2003
By 
Ratmammy "The Ratmammy" (Ratmammy's Town, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Midwives: A Novel (Hardcover)
Midwives by Chris Bohjalian
Here is a controversial story about a woman that considered herself an experienced midwife who finds herself the center of a murder trial. The story is told from the viewpoint of Connie Danforth, the midwife's 14-year old daughter, and told in both the past and present tenses. Interestingly enough, Connie grows up to be an obstetrician and the viewpoint we see is one from Connie as a doctor, and one from Connie as a young girl.
Sibyl Danforth had been a successful midwife, bringing babies into the world in the comforts of her patients' homes, instead of in a cold heartless building surrounded by modern machinery. Sibyl never professed she had a medical degree, but she did say that she knew enough to safely help pregnant women give birth in their homes. If Sibyl knew her patient's pregnancy would be difficult, she would always be sure she had a doctor on hand to help.
However, at the birth of Charlotte Bedford's baby, something goes terribly wrong. In an effort to save the baby, Sibyl does an emergency c-section without the presence of a doctor or double checking whether her patient is alive.

What follows keeps the reader in suspense until the end of the book. The grieving husband, Minister Asa Bedford, starts a lawsuit against Sibyl, and soon the entire town is involved in the case. Sibyl has the midwife associations on her side but so many others are against her. As Connie continues to narrate the story, the reader will question whether Sibyl did the right thing or not. Did Sibyl make a mistake? Or did Charlotte truly have a stroke before she gave birth to her baby? The conclusion will either cause you to nod your head in agreement, or shock the hell out of you.
I finished the book feeling angry, and was not sure I would read another novel written by Bohjalian again. Enough time has passed however, that I have decided I will read one more novel by him before I pass judgement. He is a wonderful writer, but seems to enjoy manipulating his readers' feelings.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Midwives-A Novel is a must read, Sept. 14 2002
This review is from: Midwives (Paperback)
Midwives
A novel
aglae02@yahoo.com
This novel is a must read that narrates the case of Sybil Danfoth, a midwife by heart, that attends the childbirth of Charlotte Bedford a cold and stormy winter night in Charlotte's Vermont home. Charlotte is a fragile woman that, although she tries very hard to push, cannot make the baby crown.
After hours of trying, Charlotte doesn't have any pulse nor heart bit and Sybil, understanding she is death, performs a cesarean section with a kitchen knife and saves the baby. However, before she does so, she tries to call her backup doctor and an ambulance, but she couldn't get through them. Sybil also tries to get to her station wagon, however the climate doesn't allow her to start it. Here commences the story.
The state prosecutes Sibyl Danforth for "involuntary manslaughter", that could send her to jail for one to fifteen years and no more midwifery, do to what the prosecution calls extraordinary negligence of the Midwife and because the prosecution suspects the mother was not death prior to the cesarean section.
So a trial begins and all the prosecution witnesses declare an so do the defense ones. The narrationn in general and specifically of the trial is excellent. However, when Sibyl is cross questioned she gives out a clue that can be horrendous for her defense...and so it goes.
The narration of all that happens is done by Sybil's daughter, Connie, a fourteen year old adolescent, in the first person singular, fact that gives an excellent narrative prose.
I give 5 stars for believable and credible story.
I give 5 stars for excellent narration.
I give 5 stars cause I couldn't stop reading till the end.

And, above all, I give 5stars to the author, Chris Bohjalian since he must have made a lot of research on trials, midwifery, doctors, obstetrics, among others
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