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The Birth House

by Ami McKay

A book that reflects the changing attitudes to pregnancy and childbirth in an isolated community in Nova Scotia and one woman's fight to protect the old traditions. It is a novel full of historical detail, long-forgotten traditions and heartwarming friendship that will keep the reader gripped from first page to last.

Extract

'I know this girl. Iris Rose Ketch. She lives on the mountain. Mother says her father hires her out, sells her body, for money.'

How long had it been since I'd seen her tired, little-girl face worrying over her mother at Deer Glen? A year? No more than that. It was autumn, my first birth with Miss B., when I'd seen those same wide eyes, watching through a crooked staircase, waiting for a miracle. This child, who'd been set aside by a mother who was always short on food, clothing and love, wasn't long from becoming a mother herself. I knelt at her feet. 'You're safe here, Iris Rose. I'll take care of you now.'

Frightened and breathless, Precious was quick to offer to fetch Aunt Fran. "Please Dora. I'll bring her right back. Let me go get my mum."

"There's been talk going around the circle of card-party girls of a "midwife curse", or a witch's mark that's been passed from Miss B. to me. According to this tale, I can blame the curse for driving my husband away and leaving me barren....

"I'll go get Mother. She'll know what to do."

"No, Precious. I need you to stay here. I'll open the doors to the bedroom off the kitchen and get it warmed up in there. You run upstairs and get a dressing gown from my wardrobe and as many sheets as you can carry out of the linen closet." Iris Rose sat trembling in the rocking chair. I took her hand in mine. "You're in the eye of the storm, dear; try to relax when you can - we have some work ahead of us.

Parallels

Midwives by Chris Bohjalian
The Midwife's Tale by Gretchen Moran Laskas
 

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