The Birth House is the story of Dora Rare, the first daughter to be born in five generations of Rares. As a child in an isolated village in Nova Scotia, she is drawn to Miss Babineau, an outspoken Acadian midwife with a gift for healing. Dora becomes Miss B.’s apprentice, and together they help the women of Scots Bay through infertility, difficult labours, breech births, unwanted pregnancies and even unfulfilling sex lives. Filled with details as compelling as they are surprising, The Birth House is an unforgettable tale of the struggles women have faced to have control of their own bodies and to keep the best parts of tradition alive in the world of modern medicine.
I love when you reread a book and it packs as much of a punch as it did the first time. I read The Birth House a few years ago and to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I was going to reread it or not. I loved it the first time around, so I figured there was no need. But in all fairness I decided to reread it and I’m glad I did. It was every bit as wonderful and captivating as the first time.
I’m having a hard time putting into words the reasons why I liked The Birth House so much. I think part of it has to do with the fact that it kinda takes place in my neck of the woods. But mostly I think it has to do with the research that McKay put into the book and the strong characters that are sprinkled throughout.
I’m not a fan of history. I HATED the subject in school, don’t really enjoy historical movies and would never be caught reading an historical non-fiction. But man, I love me a great historical novel. The Birth House is filled with details of the ways of midwifes in the early 1900s and I have to say I found it fascinating. I was also fascinated by the so-called “modern medicine” and it’s take on females and their “problems”.
I found myself getting angry on behalf of the female characters in The Birth House by the treatment they received by most of the males in the book. I wanted to reach in and slap a few of the men in Scots Bay, but I had a feeling some of the women in the area had already done that. See, that’s what was so great about The Birth House: even though a lot of the time the women were treating like crap, they always managed to rise about it, for the most part. They stayed strong and helped each other through stuff. That camaraderie and solidarity was the heart of the book for me. It’s also the reason I think that it deserve to be a part of Canada Reads.
So this is my last Canada Reads review. Pop by tomorrow and see what book I would champion.