Review Copy: The Midwife’s Tale

Disclaimer: The Midwife’s Tale by Delia Parr was provided by Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

Martha Cade comes from a long line of midwives who have served the families of Trinity, Pennsylvania, for generations. A widow with two grown children, she’s hopeful that her daughter will follow in her footsteps, but when Victoria runs off, Martha’s world is shattered. Worse, a new doctor has arrived in town, threatening her job, and she can’t remember a time when her faith has been tested more. Still determined to do the work she knows God intended for her, Martha is unprepared for all that waits ahead. Whether it’s trying to stop a town scandal, mending broken relationships, or feeling the first whispers of an unexpected romance, she faces every trial and every opportunity with hope and faith.

I’m really not sure how I feel about this book. I thought it was a decent piece of historical fiction, especially since it reminded me of one of my favorite shows, Call the Midwife. It was interesting to see the similarities and differences between 1850s midwifery and 1950s midwifery. And Parr surprised me with the romance aspect; when I read the summary I expected one type of romance, but got something completely different. So if you think by reading the summary you know who Martha’s love interest will be, guess again. It’s not, for once, the obvious. It’s also remarkably understated.

The book was, however, a little boring. The little conflict there was confused me when it reached its denouement, since many questions still seemed to me to go unanswered. What also confused me was the complete lack of Scripture, which I found odd in a Christian novel with a particularly strong Christian tone. It’s a little devotional-esque, and I’m surprised that no Bible verses were quoted by any of the characters. There was lots of prayer and emphasis on facing trials and submitting to God, but no Scripture, which I found odd in a book so obviously intending to represent itself as a sort of model or help in facing situations like Martha faced. I would think that even in a small town in the 1850s, Bible verses would be spoken by at least the clergy and townspeople would at least have memorized those that they heard in sermons, but apparently not.

Other little things that make me unsure about how I feel about the book: I liked Will and the snatches of humor throughout the book, but his story ended with too many unanswered questions, I thought. I’m never a fan of time jumps that take away from the impact of certain events or that take away from a character’s development, and the end of the book has a few of those, which irritated me. I also did not like the last paragraph, because it was a bit preachy, a bit corny, and wrapped things up way too neatly (I think it would have been better, both in impact and in meaning, if (highlight to reveal spoiler Victoria never came back).

The Midwife’s Tale is, indeed, a tale about a midwife—and as a result, is boring in places and overly preachy in others and ultimately forgettable. It puzzled me why no verses were ever quoted, not even by the pastors in the novel, and a few other things puzzled me as well. The ending was too obviously a “We have to make sure things turn out nicely” and I think a “sometimes things don’t turn out so nice and neat” ending would have been better. The unexpected romance, though, was well done.

My rating: 2/5

Warnings: None.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian,

You can buy this here: The Midwife’s Tale

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