“I come from a long line of midwives,” narrates Elizabeth Whitely. “I was expected to follow Mama, follow Granny, follow Great-granny. In the end, I didn’t disappoint them.
Or perhaps I did. After all, there were no more midwives after me.”For generations, the women in Elizabeth’s family have brought life to Kettle Valley, West Virginia, heeding a destiny to tend its women with herbals, experience, and wisdom. But Elizabeth, who has comforted so many, has lost her heart to the one man who cannot reciprocate, even when she moves into his home to share his bed and raise his child.
Then Lauren Denniker, Elizabeth’s adopted daughter, begins to display a miraculous gift--just as Elizabeth learns that she herself is unable to have a child. How Elizabeth comes to free herself from a loveless relationship, grapple with Lauren’s astonishing abilities, and come to terms with her own emptiness is the compelling heart of this remarkable tale. Incorporating the spirited mountain mythology of prewar Appalachia, Gretchen Laskas has crafted a story as true to our time as its own, and a cast of characters as poignant as they are entirely original.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: The Midwife's Tale|
|Release Date: 12-10-2008|
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|Parent title||The Midwife's Tale|
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The Midwife's Tale
Chapter OneIf you were born in Kettle Creek or hereabouts on our part of the Tygart River Valley, your name was written in the ledgers that lined our shelves. They were tall black leather books, shiny and thin like the ones Greeley MacIntosher used over at the store in Philippi. With a good birth we came home and wrote the baby's full name, the mama's name, the daddy's, and the date. All those lists of names should tell you that our family was good at what we do.
We never talked about the ledgers to anyone but ourselves. Not that we were ashamed-these were just names after all, but on account of the babies who didn't come through-and the pain that such knowledge brought. Most babies like that didn't even have names given them, and when Mama thought me old enough to know, she showed me the lists of Baby Girl Teller, or Baby Boy Switzer, if the woman was far enough along to tell. No matter what, we recorded the names and anything else we could recall about the birthing itself.
"Write it down," Mama told me. "Everything." She was the first to do this, marking little things about the birth that weren't so important in and of themselves, but might be later, when you needed to see the history of the family. Granny Whitely and Granny Denniker had kept most everything in their heads-all but the names and dates. "A written record is more reliable," Mama taught me. And she was right. Kettle Valley is full of Teller, Meroe, and Switzer families, and writing things down kept names and families straight. For a midwife, confusing a family history was one of the worst things you could do, as confusion might make a bad situation worse if you needed to choose the right tonic, or kno...