MediaMonday for December 17, 2012: Michael Chabon Looks Back on 2012, source media from LA Times Sunday Conversation, December 16, 2012.

Patricia Harman in #litchat

Patricia Harman (photo: Bob Kosturko)

What was the last novel you read that you couldn’t put down, and yet dreaded the final page? A novel that occupied your mind like an addict jonesing for a fix? Was it the characters who grew to feel like friends, or did the setting draw you into a world of discovery, danger or desire? On Wednesday, December 19, 2012 we’ll discuss books too good to finish, but so good you can’t stop reading.

Friday’s guest host, Patricia Hartman, has written one of these books. The Midwife of Hope River, takes you into the hills of West Virginia during the depression, where a young midwife still reeling from her own personal tragedies, must overcome poverty, bigotry, racism, and the law itself on her journey to wholeness.

MidwifeofHopeRiverBabies are born in this novel, yet the story is about so much more than midwifery. Look at the setting, Appalachia during the Depression. Hartman forges conflicts such as steel mills, mines and the development of unions into the backstory and the present. Remember the era, 1930s, where divisions cut through all manners of society, from the rich to the poor, the immigrants and the native born, the whites and the coloreds.

Hartman deftly casts birth and death as the twin fires that refine people no matter their walk of life. Add historical elements such as the terrorist activities of the Ku Klux Klan, the work of the firebrand Mary Harris “Mother” Jones at unionizing labor, and even references to the anarchist revolutionary Emma Goldman.

Patricia Harman has spent more than 30 years caring for women as a midwife, first as a lay-midwife, delivering babies in cabins and on communal farms in West Virginia, and later as a nurse-midwife in teaching hospitals and in a community hospital birthing center. Harman still lives and works with her husband, Ob/Gyn Thomas Harman, in Morgantown, West Virginia at their clinic, Partners in Women’s Health Care. Though she no longer attends births, she provides care for women in early pregnancy and through-out the life span. She brings to her writing the same dedication and compassion she brought to obstetrics. Her two previous nonfiction books, Arms Wide Open and The Blue Cotton Gown, both of them detailing her experiences in childbirth and delivery.

Follow Patricia Harman on Twitter: @PatsyHarman.