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47 Reviews
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down
I bought this book on a whim. I'd never heard of it before, but the cover just...caught my eye. And the charming binding made me pick it up. I wasn't dissappointed. It took me...a day to read it, 12 hours maybe, of solid reading, because try as I might, I couldn't bear to set it down for long. The story just...completely drew me in, and the characters make you fall in...
Published on July 12 2007 by M. Cannell

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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok Read - Nothing Spectacular
While I am normally a huge fan of historical fiction, I was not that impressed by this novel. I found the characters to be underdeveloped and the plot stilted. I found myself skipping over a lot of superfluous information that did nothing to further the story or enhance the characters. Before I get yelled at by those who love the book, I would like to say that I very much...
Published on July 7 2006 by Mrs. Shaw


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down, July 12 2007
By 
M. Cannell (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Birth House (Paperback)
I bought this book on a whim. I'd never heard of it before, but the cover just...caught my eye. And the charming binding made me pick it up. I wasn't dissappointed. It took me...a day to read it, 12 hours maybe, of solid reading, because try as I might, I couldn't bear to set it down for long. The story just...completely drew me in, and the characters make you fall in love with them from the very first chapter. This book made me laugh and cry and rage all in a single chapter...and provoking such an emotional response...is one of the hardest jobs an author has. Also, the additions of a glossary, recipe and other little fun tidbits in the back of the book were delightful. The perfect book for the summer.

Here's to tea with mitts!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Rare Treasure, April 14 2006
By 
Jhuzen Ketsugo "Ketsy Baby" (Toronto, On CANADA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: The Birth House (Hardcover)
The story of Dora Rare's Life, Love, Profession, and Compassion is not only Compelling, It's Inspiring. Amy McKay Paints a picture of life in an isolated village in Nova Scotia during WWII. Dora is drawn into the world of the holistic midwife, helping to bring new life into the world. Yet with the sweet comes the sour, Dora often learns to ease fragile souls onto their next journey. As an Obstetrical Nurse, I found the details of Dora's work both fascinating and true to life. But beyond my personal connection with this book, it is truly a great novel.
A must read, can't put it down, page turner!!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok Read - Nothing Spectacular, July 7 2006
This review is from: The Birth House (Hardcover)
While I am normally a huge fan of historical fiction, I was not that impressed by this novel. I found the characters to be underdeveloped and the plot stilted. I found myself skipping over a lot of superfluous information that did nothing to further the story or enhance the characters. Before I get yelled at by those who love the book, I would like to say that I very much enjoyed the glimpse into the history of midwives/birth and woman's rights as well as the subtle yet clever parallels between the two. (IE the "birth" of women's rights and freedoms). However, I still felt it could have benefited from a good editor and the fleshing out of the plot.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't get enough of The Birth House, June 6 2007
By 
Kerri Scholz (Whitehorse, YK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Birth House (Paperback)
When I bought this book in the Toronto airport, I was looking forward to having an interesting read to Vancouver. Little did I know that this book would consume my every thought. I couldn't put it down! I stayed awake the entire flight reading it and couldn't wait to read more. I must say that when I finished this book, I was quite upset, and still am, that it was done. A really excellent read!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant surprise, Aug. 16 2006
By 
J. Smith (Toronto, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Birth House (Hardcover)
I was drawn to this book by its strking cover and the locale of the story - - an area of this country that I enjoy every summer with my daughter. What a welcome surprise that the story itself turns out to be even better than the package & the lure of coastal Nova Scotia. I found the book particularly thought provoking given some the present day assaults being launched on women's reproductive rights both north and south of the border. Plus ca change...it would seem.

For anyone who enjoyed Lori Lansen's Rush Home Road, The Birth House is guaranteed to please. A tender and thoughtful addition to the wealth of contemporary Canadian literature that we are so fortunate to have at our fingertips.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ami McKay is a fantastic writer!, May 12 2012
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This review is from: The Birth House (Paperback)
I've read both Ami McKay's books and both are just amazing! She is just a wonderful writer and really brings you into the time peroid and lives of these characters. I love the fact that the underlying current in both books is women and their rights and women banding together and taking control of their bodies. In this one, it's about a woman's right to decide how and where she will have her baby. Not the doctors decision or her husbands. As well it's about women choosing when to have babies. So empowering. Dora Rare is an unwilling midwife to begin with and then finds her power and place in the village as a savour to the women there. Truely a great read for any woman.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Poignant and Compelling!, Sept. 13 2006
This review is from: The Birth House (Hardcover)
Congratulations, Ami, on a fabulous first novel.

A young girl, Dora Rare, moves in with an elderly small town midwife or 'traiteur' who claims that Dora will take over her birthing business. Marie Babineau trains the young girl in the ways that only tradition can teach.

The story takes place over a number of years, seeing the main character married, giving birth to her own children and raising someone else's child. Dora is caught between the old ways and new, modern birthing practices. The story evolves slowly, deeply and emotionally.

As a fellow Canadian author, it is uplifting to see Canadian fiction so well accepted. I too write about Canadian locales, but haven't yet made it to the east coast in my books yet. Having lived in New Brunswick and traveled to Nova Scotia, I think McKay has painted a quaint and realistic picture of how life was (and maybe still is to some extent), with characters that live and breathe. Canadian fiction is alive and well, thanks to authors like Ami McKay!

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to delve into the emotions and lives of small town Nova Scotia. But warning...bring Kleenex!

Cheryl Kaye Tardif, [...]
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book!!!!!!!!!!!, Nov. 25 2006
By 
Elissa Swennumson "avid reader" (Alberta, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Birth House (Hardcover)
All I can say is what a great book, I have not been able to put it down at night, being a new mother of baby #2 I should be sleeping but this book isn't allowing me to. I would recommend this book to any female, I find it an easy read, easy to follow and it paints a great picture. I find myself really feeling and relating with the characters of the book, there is a broad range of emotion, one minute I am laughing and the next crying. I have even read passages from the book to my husband as he is questioning why I am laughing and he finds humour in the bits I read him as well.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, Jan. 2 2007
By 
Leslie Thorley (Dryden, ON Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Birth House (Hardcover)
I LOVED this book. I was browsing around and came upon this book and just happened to buy it for no other reason than that I was extremely bored and wanted something to read. The cover caught my eye so I bought it. Once I started reading, I was hooked. This is an awesome, powerful story and I really felt like I was sent back in time and was walking alongside Dora Rare throughout the entire read. I can't wait for Ami McKay to write something else, I will be waiting anxiously to order it.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Stereotypical and Unfunny Tripe, Oct. 22 2010
By 
John Mutford "John Mutford" (Iqaluit, Nunavut Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Birth House (Paperback)
In 2003 my daughter was born with the aid of midwives in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. They were godsends (and have become lifelong friends in the process). It was my first education into the world of midwifery and my wife and I are fully in support of the resurgence. It would stand to reason that I'd be drawn to Ami McKay's the birth house, which tells the story of a fictional midwife in early 1900s Nova Scotia.

What a colossal disappointment. Lately it seems that I've been drawn to a lot of stories that reveal the underside and complexities of small town life (in particular To Kill a Mockingbird and Dogville). At the beginning of the birth house it appeared that I'd be treated to another one of these tales:

"Men wagered their lives with the sea for the honour of these vessels."

"As the men bargained with the elements, the women tended to matters at
home."

"When husbands, fathers and sons were kept out in the fog longer than was safe, the women stood at their windows, holding their lamps..."

The problem was McKay never really got beyond this stereotypical view of maritime life, whereas the aforementioned stories excelled by stripping away the layers. In a lot of ways the birth house reminded me of E. Annie Proulx's faulted presentation of Newfoundland.

One exception was protagonist, Dora Rare. Another annoyance: McKay's ridiculous names. Had this read like a fable perhaps she could have gotten away with such silliness, but anchoring the story in such real-life events as the Halifax explosion and the 1st World War prevented any surreal experience she may have been going for. The Rares haven't had a male born in 5 generations, which makes Dora even more rare- wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Then there's Experience Ketch who had to put up with a drunken, abusive husband for years- imagine all that she's experienced- you get it? Oh and let's not forget the name of the ship that captain Bigelow sailed to the West Indies, never again to return to his wife... the Fidelity. Where's a rim-shot when you really need one?

Such intrusions of McKay trying desperately to be funny merely distracted from the story. Another prime example: the vibrator incident. After a doctor prescribes...ahem...vibration therapy, Dora mail-orders a vibrator of her very own to avoid him. In her diary she writes, "With the arrival of this 'medical marvel,' I feel hopeful..." My issue- petty as it might seem- is those tiny little quotation marks around medical marvel. Sure, it could be argued that Dora was simply quoting from the magazine ad, but doesn't it seem like McKay is throwing it in to joke with us, the modern readers? As in, "Can you believe how silly things were back then?" Yechh. The rest of the novel just got more and more obvious that it was a 21st century author casting modern knowledge and values backwards and expecting me to believe it.

I could go on (predictable, sexist, etc), but I'm just so exhausted with it all.
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The Birth House
The Birth House by Ami McKay (Hardcover - Feb. 14 2006)
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