It was an icy winter night in an isolated house in rural Vermont, in March 1981. An experienced midwife named Sibyl Danforth took desperate measures to save a baby’s life. She performed a C-section on a mother she believed had died of a stroke. But what if she was wrong? What if she’d accidentally killed her instead?
Told in the voice of Sibyl’s teenage daughter Connie, as well as from the midwife’s personal notes, we gradually come to know the events that transpired both during the event and afterwards. An inexperienced assistant, the clouded emotions of others, and the outrage of the medical community all converge to bring the case to a courtroom.
Even as the events afterwards unfolded, and as the past slipped seamlessly into the present, the reader is left frantically turning pages, uncertain as to what the outcome will actually be.
Will the efforts of a brilliant defense attorney and expert witnesses for the defense combat the aggressive, almost cruel methods of the state’s attorney? Will the jurors be able to sort out the facts from the conjecture offered by some of the witnesses? And what will happen to Connie Danforth’s life if her mother is convicted? And what chance of acquittal could there be, since Connie has kept a secret that could sway events and change everything?
Midwives is more than a case about medical malpractice or involuntary manslaughter. It’s also about tradition vs. alternative methods. It is about how hostility within the medical community can affect the lives of many. How perceptions often alter reality.
This is my first novel by this author, but I was thoroughly engaged throughout and will be reading more of his work. Five stars.