The Reluctant Midwife : A Hope River Novel by Patricia Harman

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If you read Patricia Harman’s The Midwife of Hope River, you will be thrilled to learn that the story continues with The Reluctant Midwife.

The Midwife of Hope River told the story of Patience Murphy, serving as a midwife in the strain of the Great Depression, in the backwoods rural town near a mining camp. The heroine had heartbreak, made friends, made a life for herself and found love.

The Reluctant Midwife is about her friend, nurse Becky Myers. Hard times have hit everyone, but Becky has found herself in a unique situation. The doctor she worked for had a complete mental breakdown and has been a shell of a man ever since. He can’t speak, can’t work, can barely feed himself. His own family refuses to take on his care and she was the only person who cared enough to make sure he got treatment. Now she has gone to Hope River to find a life for herself, but she finds that the Depression has had drastic effects on the people and economy of the place. There is little work and only a shack of a house to live in while she tries desperately to find work.

But better things may be on the horizon for Becky as she learns to trust others and accept help, and she learns the solidarity of a self-made family. Perhaps there is hope for Becky, for Dr. Blum, even for Patience Murphy and her family and the rest of the residents of Hope River.

Patricia Harman’s portrayal of the historical era is poignant and sharp, brutally honest but full of hope and spirit. If you enjoy historical fiction with a little more substance and heartache, The Reluctant Midwife is for you. If you haven’t read The Midwife of Hope River, I recommend that you purchase both novels at once.

The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford

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Dana Catrell wakes up after a night of drinking with her neighbor friend, only to find that in the night, the woman has been brutally murdered. She was the last known person to see Celia alive, and the police are highly suspicious that she can’t seem to remember clearly what happened the night before. With the pressure of her friend’s death and the suspicion that her husband is having an affair hanging over her, she begins to unravel, losing a little bit of her sanity around every corner. What is real, and what is imagined? Does she really remember her neighbor showing her a picture of her husband with another woman, or is her subconscious just trying to tell her that her husband is a cheater?

The lives of several broken people cross paths in this psychological thriller that will have you reading late into the night. Did Dana kill her friend? Or has she been framed? Can she figure out what happened before she is wrongfully arrested for the crime? Can she trace her own steps? Can she hold on to her sanity long enough to find the truth?

The Pocket Wife, by Susan Crawford, is a psychological thriller in the vein of The Silent Wife or Dark Rooms. The suspense will keep you guessing until the end, and wading through the main character’s unreliable narrative will leave you dying to find out the solution to the mystery. If you like psychological thrillers, The Pocket Wife is for you.

Crystal Falconer
LibraryCrystal
Book reviewer, Librarian, Tech geek wannabe
Crystal Falconer graduated with her B.A. from Western Oregon University, followed by her M.L.I.S. from University of Denver. She was born in Oregon but currently resides in Colorado with her husband, son and trusty canine counterpart.
Boulder, CO
USA
falconercrew@gmail.com

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Two Sisters by Mary Hogan

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Muriel Sullivant was the third child in her family. Her older sister, Pia, was a picture of perfection, especially in her mother’s eyes. Her older brother had an impenetrable relationship with her father. She always felt like the chubby, messy, hopeless tagalong. Now that she is an adult, she still struggles to have a deep conversation with her father, and her mother still disapproves of her diet, her job, her apartment, her lack of a love life. She can’t help but wonder why she has always felt so displaced.

One day, her sister Pia shows up at her house and she is bombarded with a horrible truth. Her sister is dying, and she wants Muriel to make sure that her funeral wishes are carried out. Muriel is blown away, but she cannot deny her sister a final wish…Then comes the biggest blow…She also wants Muriel to keep it a secret that she’s dying, from everyone…Including their mother. Muriel assents to her sister’s request, but the pressure of the situation leads her to dig a little deeper into her family’s past and secrets. And what she discovers after her sister dies is life-changing.

Two Sisters, by Mary Hogan, is ripe with growing pains and the usual emotions on the journey of sisterhood, but if you are hoping for something cozy and sweet and “girl-power”, this novel will not take you there. Two sisters is raw and heart-wrenching, and takes the reader to sadder places. Muriel finds resolution-the truth sets her free. Bring your tissue box if you think this one sounds like your next read…And maybe some chocolates too.

The Taste of Appleseeds by Katharina Hagena

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Originally entitled “Der Gerschmack von Apfelkernen”, this novel has been translated into English from German, and has already been a literary success in Europe, translated into numerous languages and made into a German film (which I’m dying to get my hands on).

The story revolves around Iris, a woman who inherits her grandmother’s home upon her death and is forced to face some of the secrets of her family and her past. Her grandparents both had deep, dark secrets hidden in the walls that don’t tell tales. Tragedy struck more than once in the little home, more than one daughter was lost. Iris decides to speak with the man who has been tending the home, and with the lawyer representing the property (who is conveniently handsome) and see if she can put together the pieces left behind for her.

The Taste of Appleseeds, by Katharina Hagena, is a must-read for readers who love Kate Morton (The Forgotten Garden, The Distant Hours, The Secret Keeper, the House at Riverton) , Katherine Webb (The Unseen, The Half-Forgotten Song) , or Kimberley Freeman  (Wildflower Hill, Lighthouse Bay, Ember Island). What makes the novel original is that it has a touch of magical realism, faint but there nonetheless, which gives the story something special that you magical realism readers will love too.

Anyone who knows me well enough to judge can tell you that these types of novels are my very favorite. Long, delving back through generations, deep and dark family secrets, beautiful description and an almost magical feel, and a heroine who is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery at any cost…LOVE them. They aren’t for readers who want instant gratification or a short weekend read, but for patient readers who like to take a more languid path once in a while. If this sounds like you, then don’t hesitate to read The Taste of Appleseeds…And if any of you can figure out how to get any version of the movie available here in the states be sure to let me know!

Starter House by Sonja Condit

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Lacey Miszlak wanted nothing more than a home of her own, where she and her husband would raise their unborn child and make memories to cherish-a home life that she never had, growing up with a mother who could never stay in one place for long. When she first sees the house, she knows it’s the one. Despite the subtle discouragement from her real estate agent, Lacey will not back down, and finally the house is theirs. But Lacey is starting to see a little boy in the yard, in the kitchen, all over the house. And no one else can see him.

When incidents start to frighten Lacey, and she ends up on bed rest, she calls upon her spiritualist mother to help her find out just what is happening in her house, before the worst happens to her, or her child….And events will take place that make any reader’s skin crawl….

Starter House, by Sonja Condit, is a thriller with supernatural elements. If you like haunted house stories, you won’t want to miss this one, which will surprise you with a climax that will blow your mind. If you need a good scare, be sure to check it out!

The Hive by Gill Hornby

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A group of women are drawn together in the interest of the local private school attended by their children. The intention : to raise money for the school doing various fundraisers. The outcome : DISASTER. Playground politics are laid out brutally in a world where bullying occurs even among the mothers. The queen bee of the hive is power-hungry and thrives on exclusivity, and some of the mothers have truly had enough. What will happen when the tension is finally too much? Can the queen bee be overthrown?

Anyone who has ever been mother to elementary school-aged children knows about the politics that go along with participating in school events/fundraisers, etc. The Hive, by Gill Hornby,  is set in the U.K.,  but is easy to relate to, even for Americans. Good women’s fiction. I listened to the audiobook while I was at work and found myself smiling and shaking my head as I listened to this novel.

The Surfing Lesson by Elin Hilderbrand

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A teaser short story for Elin Hilderbrand’s new novel, Beautiful Day, The Surfing Lesson gives you a taste for the characters in the upcoming novel and lays out the background of Margot, a working mother who is seriously questioning her marriage to handsome Drum, once known as the best surfer on the Nantucket beaches. Margot decides to test her marriage for once and for all by setting up Drum in an intimate situation with his ex-girfriend Hadley. The plan: have Drum teach Hadley’s son how to surf, and see if Drum will be tempted by Hadley’s obvious attraction and flirtation…And to watch from where no one can see her and see if she can bring back the old passion and possessiveness that was once her relationship with Drum.

This is not a full-length novel, but a short story. If you are an Elin Hilderbrand superfan, however, you will definitely want to add it to your collection. Those of you who haven’t read Elin Hilderbrand should know that she writes women’s fiction bordering on chicklit, and the stories take place in Nantucket and often involve romance and challenging  family relationships. The audiobook by Hachette Audio is excellent, so if you like to listen to your stories, put this one on your list. A warning, however, if you like the short story, chances are you will want to read Beautiful Day immediately. So be prepared.

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The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg

13525938Edie Middlestein has a big problem. She can’t stop eating. She thinks about food all day long. This wasn’t a problem until her Doctor told her she had to put it to a stop or she was killing herself. Her family doesn’t know what to do with Edie. After two surgeries, Edie still refuses to make any life changes. Her husband has decided to give up on his wife, for good. The responsibility falls on Edie’s children to make sure that Edie is cared for. But her children have lives of their own. What is a family to do when a loved one refuses to follow medical advice? How can they keep their mother healthy when she is a grown woman who makes her own decisions? Edie’s friends gave up on her long ago, because she will not listen to anyone.

This novel outlines the very real events that domino through families with a member whose habits are killing her. The helplessness and guilt that courses through these people, how it affects their own lives, and the hardship that illness brings into a family. If you want a more serious, family-related read, this one might be an interesting choice for you. Warning, however, it’s pretty sad. The audiobook is available from Hachette Audio, and it is very well narrated.

The Middlesteins, by Jami Attenburg, is a portrayal of obsession, and how that obsession can cause a ripple effect among families that changes everything.