The Runaway Midwife by Patricia Harman
William Morrow: An Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers
From the publisher:
Say “goodbye” to your old life, and “hello” to the life you’ve been waiting for…
Midwife Clara Perry is accustomed to comforting her pregnant patients…calming fathers-to-be as they anxiously await the birth of their children…ensuring the babies she delivers come safely into the world.
But when Clara’s life takes a nosedive, she realizes she hasn’t been tending to her own needs and does something drastic: she runs away and starts over again in a place where no one knows her or the mess she’s left behind in West Virginia. Heading to Sea Gull Island—a tiny, remote Canadian island—Clara is ready for anything. Well, almost. She left her passport back home, and the only way she can enter Canada is by hitching a ride on a snowmobile and illegally crossing the border.
Deciding to reinvent herself, Clara takes a new identity—Sara Livingston, a writer seeking solitude. But there’s no avoiding the outside world. The residents are friendly, and draw “Sara” into their lives and confidences. She volunteers at the local medical clinic, using her midwifery skills, and forms a tentative relationship with a local police officer.
But what will happen if she lets down her guard and reveals the real reason why she left her old life? One lesson soon becomes clear: no matter how far you run, you can never really hide from your past.
My thoughts on The Runaway Midwife:
As of this posting, I am three-quarters finished with The Runaway Midwife and understand the hype about this Patricia Harman book. Who doesn’t want to shuck their old life and just start fresh someday? What would happen if you actually followed through with such a plan? Well, in The Runaway Midwife, you can follow along as Clara, or later Sara, does. I was hooked into this book shortly after the beginning because this midwife’s life seems to be collapsing around her all at once: a cheating husband, a daughter who goes to live in Australia, a pending lawsuit over the death of a beloved patient, and the unexplained suicide of her best friend. I was agreeing with this character in that yes, you need to go, sister, and start fresh somewhere else. What better cover to isolate yourself on a remote Great Lakes island and a Canadian one, no less, to hide from your past life? Seagull Island on Lake Erie sounded like the perfect escape to me.
Unfortunately, those pesky other people have a way of forcing you to have to interact with them. Then one thing leads to another. Sara starts to get close to her neighbors and other island residents. Of course, this complicates things once again. Once her first friend on the island, Jed, finds out she is a nurse, then everyone knows. But Sara cannot stop wanting to help other people and she has plenty of opportunity on Seagull Island.
Sara’s method of escape was quite ingenious: take all cheater husband’s cash from the safe deposit box, go to a remote island you visited once as a kid, in Canada, and don’t bring your passport so you cannot be traced, and get there illegally via a snowmobile when the lake is frozen over in the dead of winter. Before she enters Canada, Sara makes a conscious choice to steal someone’s identity by snatching a purse at a grocery store.
So, in Canada, Sara gets involved with the free spirit who gave her lift into Canada via his snowmobile. She forgets what it is like to meet someone and just have fun with no strings attached. She also tries to avoid the local police officer on the island, but they seem thrown together and his genuine goodness does attract Sara to him, even though she knows he could find out about her more easily than anyone else. She also befriends the local hippies and other colorful local characters that exist on any island.
I should be finished with The Runaway Midwife in the next day or so and will amend this post to tell if I enjoyed the ending and wrap-up as much as I am enjoying reading the novel. Note: 2 days later I finished this novel and really enjoyed reading about the runaway midwife. The book was somewhat predictable, but an enjoyable read. Only one small issue in the book did not get resolved. I did not see the point of that storyline. Sara was an interesting protagonist. She was flawed like we all are . . . I do recommend The Runaway Midwife.
After choosing to receive this book from a list of tours, I received a free, uncorrected proof of this paperback in exchange for my honest review.
Important Links for Patricia Harman and The Runaway Midwife:
About Patricia Harman:
–author Patricia Harman
Patricia Harman, CNM, got her start as a lay midwife on rural communes and went on to become a nurse-midwife on the faculties of Ohio State University, Case Western Reserve University, and West Virginia University. She is the author of two acclaimed memoirs and the bestselling novel The Midwife of Hope River. She has three sons and lives near Morgantown, West Virginia.