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18 of 18 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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14 of 15 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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18 of 18 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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14 of 14 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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8 of 8 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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6 of 6 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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14 of 15 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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4 of 4 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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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Drawn to it, March 19 2007
This review is from: The Birth House (Paperback)
I'm initially drawn to novels becasuse they offer me either something totally foreign, or because of their location. Hence my picking Haddon's "Curious Incident" as I wasn't autistic and didn't live in England. Also the reason for picking "Bark of the Dogwood" as I don't live in the Southern U.S. So I picked "Birth" because it was set before WWI, a period I've always been fascinated with. Now, living on the opposite side of Canada I also was somewhat intrigued with Nova Scotia. Perfect book for me right?

This novel is real and you can literally smell, feel, and taste the experiences. It's the story of Dora, a young girl, who trains under an Acadian woman that many believe to be a witch. When a "real" doctor shows up, i.e. Dr. Gilbert Thomas, the clash begins. He represents all that's new and scientific and Miss Babineau and Dora represent just the opposite. The story unfolds from there, with a lot of good writing and even some poetic passages.

The author obviously did a lot of research on this novel, and that also impressed me. This alone is probably the reason the experiences shown are so real and the characters' interactions touch the right nerves. For those looking for a great read, might I suggest this book, along with the novel "Middlesex" and the book "The Time Traveler's Wife."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Birth House by Ami McKay, Feb. 14 2011
This review is from: The Birth House (Paperback)
When I finished reading this book, the images stayed with me for a long time. Ami McKay has a real feel for the characters in her book. Before I bought the book, I listened to Ami being interviewed on CBC radio recently.
If you have an interest in the tension between midwifery and the medicalization of birth, this would be a good book to read. Not only does it develop the constant struggle between the medical community vs. the common sense practice of the midwives, it also gives a strong feel for the people of east coast Canada at the beginning of the twentieth century. I give this book five stars because it captures the Canadian spirit of independence.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Certainly Worthwhile, July 25 2011
This review is from: The Birth House (Paperback)
As a resident of the village which was the setting for this book I can say that it seemed very poignant. I read some of the other reviews that criticized the book for not being well researched and I am not sure what they are talking about. Firstly, it is a historical fiction, not history, therefore she is permitted to embellish here and there to add to the story. The parts based on historical events I believe were extremely well researched. The names of the characters were obvious plays on words, but that added to the overall impact of the story. Ami seemed to try to make us as readers feel as if we were in Dora Rare's shoes. She added little touches of folk remedy, undoubtedly taken from an eclectic collection of some persons, that made it seem authentic.
I think a lot of women can relate to the conflicts and emotions in this book. We have all at one point or another struggled with our identity, in love, and to fit in. If this book does not remind you of some memory within your own life than I am afraid you have not lived. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and look forward to "The Virgin Cure."
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4.0 out of 5 stars An Engaging Scrapbook, March 27 2012
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This review is from: The Birth House (Paperback)
It is easy to see why this charming book has become a Canadian best-seller. It takes readers back to a time and place where life was simpler, though more elemental, and introduces a most attractive heroine in young Dora Rare, who becomes the midwife to her small community. The place -- a real one -- is Scots Bay, Nova Scotia, a small fishing and shipbuilding village at the tip of a rocky peninsula in the Bay of Fundy, isolated from the larger town of Canning by an intervening mountain. The time is roughly that of the First World War, and though the munitions explosion in Halifax and the Spanish Flu epidemic in Boston both play a part in the story, its focus is mainly on the women remaining in the village after the men have left.

Among these is Dora, reputedly the only girl child ever born to a Rare man. As a girl, she strikes up a friendship with Marie Babineau, an old Acadian woman who subsists on the charity of the local women in return for her services as a herbalist, healer, and midwife, "catching" babies as they come into the world, or occasionally undoing their conception; her only aim is to help. Dora becomes her apprentice while still in her early teens, and eventually takes over, although she also keeps a foot in the more normal social life of the village. The contrast between old half-superstitious wisdom and modern science is one of the few plot tensions in the book, especially with the arrival of Dr. Gilbert Thomas, a practitioner of obstetrics and an early form of for-profit managed care. McKay tilts the playing-field, however, by making Thomas all too ready to bring out the chloroform, forceps, and scalpel, and showing him totally blind to the emotional needs of his patients. While she paints a valuable picture of the early feminist struggle for autonomy in women's health, it is hard not to read this as a polemic for her own day also.

McKay, who lives in a former birth house herself, has done an impressive amount of research into social, medical, and maritime history, herbalism, and folklore. There is even a beautifully-illustrated herbiary at the end of the novel. Her book is a treasure-trove of tidbits of knowledge. The problem with this, however, is less her few inaccuracies (such as mentioning transistor radios three decades before their time) than the difficulty of maintaining narrative tension while writing essentially in scrapbook form, with vignettes, journal entries, letters, and newspaper clippings intercutting the mainly first-person account. This is especially true at the end, where the novel settles down gracefully into a series of glimpses. Though similar in subject and setting, it has none of the wildness or tension of Michael Crummey's GALORE. It is not a book I shall want to keep on my own shelves, but I shall certainly send it to my pregnant daughter, in some confidence that she will like it.
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The Birth House
The Birth House by Ami McKay (Paperback - March 6 2007)
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