Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Birth House - Ami McKay

The Basics: The Birth House, Ami McKay, 2006, 368 pages, paperback

How I found it: My mom read this for her book club and recommended it to me because of the Nova Scotia setting.

What's it about?: The book follows the life of Dora Rare, a misfit a small rural Nova Scotia town at the dawn of WWI. Dora is apprenticed to the local midwife, despite the fact that midwifery has fallen out of favour with the men of the community who believe they should use the modern doctors available in the nearest city. Dora perseveres and manages to stand up for women's rights in a time when it was not common to do so. The book follows her from her adolescence to her middle age, and involves her friends, marriage, and children.

Did I like it?: I liked this book, perhaps even more so since I have actually been to Scot's Bay, where the book is set (although I was there really briefly - that is where the hike to Cape Split begins). I identified with Dora and thought she was a strong and likable character. The book takes a strong stance on the promotion of midwifery, which is fairly unknown to most these days. The traditional knowledge involved in being a midwife was interesting, but I felt it sometimes took up a bit too much of the book.

Will you like it?: Unfortunately, I'll say it again - this is primarily a women's book and is good for book clubs. The midwife stuff is TMI at times, but otherwise I really liked the story and I think most people would as well.

But don't take my word for it: the usual blurbs and reader reviews from Amazon, the book's official website, one from, another from, one from Toronto's Now Magazine, and finally one from the Book-a-rama blog.

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