Saturday, June 17, 2017

Another Excellent Sally Hepworth Novel

Back on May 17, I reviewed a mother's promise by Sally Hepworth.  And you know how much I enjoyed it.  So I decided to give another one of her books a try (she's got 3, and I've already picked up the 3rd one, the things we keep, from Recycle Books - it's in my TBR pile).  I figured that maybe I read the best one 1st.  And that would be okay.  Uh, Nope.  The Secrets of Midwives is just as good as the mother's promise.  Sally can flat-out write.  What's this one about, you ask?  Let the book's back page tell you:

Neva Bradley, a third-generation midwife, is determined to keep the details surrounding her own pregnancy - including the identity of the baby's father - hidden from her family and coworkers for as long as possible.  Her mother, Grace, finds it impossible to let this secret rest.  The more Grace prods, the tighter Neva holds to her story, and the more the lifelong differences between private, quiet Neva and open, gregarious Grace strain their relationship.  For Floss, Neva's grandmother and a retired midwife, Neva's situation thrusts her back sixty years in time to a secret that eerily mirrors her granddaughter's - one which, if revealed, will have life-changing consequences for them all.  As Neva's pregnancy progresses and speculation makes it harder and harder to conceal the truth, Floss wonders if hiding her own truth is ultimately more harmful than telling it.  Will these women reveal their secrets and deal with the inevitable consequences? Or are some secrets best kept hidden?

There's a bunch of stuff I liked about this book:

1.  The book grabbed me emotionally right away with all 3 main characters (as well as a few of the supporting cast).  I love when that happens.
2.  There was a fair amount of humor (with some good snark), which took me totally by surprise.  I am quite fond of laugh-out-loud moments.
3.  I like how the chapters rotate from Neva to Grace to Floss and back again.  It reminded me of A.R. Silverberry's Wyndano's Cloak (a YA fantasy).  The chapters rotate between 2 teenage girls.  And every time I finished a chapter, I was disappointed that it ended.  And then I would feel the same way at the end of the next chapter.  This book is similar. Each of the 3 have a good story that I wanted to find out more about. And the length of each chapter I thought was perfect.
4.  Now I have to admit that I've never been a teenage girl.  But I do have 2 daughters.  So this description of girlfriend stuff did resonate with me:  "I'd more or less given up on female friends in the seventh grade when I realized that female friendship was practically a religion. Thou shalt not sit next to another friend at lunchtime.  Thou shalt insist you wear my favorite jacket and then get mad when you spill soda on it. Thou shalt not talk to anyone currently being shunned by the group.  In contrast, hanging out with male friends felt like sliding into a pair of old jeans: comfy, predictable, unpretentious."
5.  I certainly learned a few things about midwifery.  Although I don't intend to become one anytime soon, I always appreciate the opportunity to learn something.
6.  All 3 voices are very clear.
7.  Notice that I haven't mentioned chills, tears, et al, yet.  That must mean I didn't experience any of those emotions, right?  WRONG!  There are plenty of them.  With an "Oh, God" thrown in just for the heck of it.
8.  Sally creates real drama with some of the baby deliveries.  You're really worried about the outcome in a couple of cases.  That kind of drama is not easy to convey to the reader.  She makes it look easy.
9.  The writing is crazy good.  As usual, I've got a couple of examples for you:
"But when he took her, he cradled her with the utmost care, barely moving an inch.  He reminded me of a child carrying a mug of hot coffee."
"Lil smiled and a small part of my heart, a broken part, snapped back against the whole - a perfect fit."
"Now we both smiled shyly.  My insides tickled - that feeling when you've won a race and you're just waiting for it to be announced to the crowd."

People, this is just a terrific book.  And I suspect that I will be saying the same thing after I read the things we keep.


  1. Great review! I liked hearing what stood out for you the most. It's been a while since I read it, so this was a good refresher. Hope you enjoy The Things We Keep.

  2. I haven't read this one but I will because I really liked her other two novels. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    1. I'm definitely looking forward to reading the 3rd one. She's earned the right to have it bypass a bunch of other books in the TBR pile.

  3. I've got A Mother's Promise and know a lot of people who loved it so I'll start with it. I'm glad to know Hepworth writes so well, though.

    1. Yep. You can't go wrong with either tmp or TSoM (or probably ttwk either).