Author Patricia Harman releasing “Once a Midwife” in November 2018
MORGANTOWN, West Virginia – USA Today bestselling author Patricia Harman is taking readers back in time as the United States entered World War II with her newest novel, “Once a Midwife (HarperCollins/William Marrow, Nov. 6, 2018), once again offering a valued female narrative to American historical fiction.
In a time of turmoil, Patience Hester, a skilled and trusted midwife, is in many ways the only stability for the women of Hope River Valley, West Virginia. With the Great Depression behind them, Patience and her veterinarian husband Daniel watch the progression of the war in Europe with trepidation. Following the bombing at Pearl Harbor, a wave of patriotism floods America, including Hope Valley. While a patriot, Daniel Hester is also a secret pacifist. And his refusal to join the draft results in his imprisonment, leaving Patience to care for and support their four children while fighting for Daniel’s release amid the judgment from the community.
Through Patience, we understand the anxieties and struggles on the American home front during World War II. And through Patience, Harman pushes readers to consider the different manifestations of patriotism, loyalty, unity, discrimination, cowardice, bravery and love.
“As a midwife I use stories to teach, to warn, to make people laugh and to renew hope,” Harman says. “As a writer, I’m still doing the same thing. Midwives are warriors in my books, healers that stand on the edge of life and death. They remind us that courage matters, that kindness is it’s own reward and that community is the glue holds the world together.”
PATRICIA HARMAN has spent over 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 on the faculty of Ohio State University, Case Western Reserve University, and West Virginia University. She lives near Morgantown, West Virginia, has three sons, and is the author of two acclaimed memoirs. Her first novel, “The Midwife of Hope River,” was successful around the world. “Once a Midwife” is the fourth book in the Hope River Series. For more information, please visit www.patriciaharman.com
“Once a Midwife”
Patricia Harman | Nov. 6, 2018 | HarperCollins/William Morrow
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0062869333 | $26.99
Paperback ISBN: 978-0062825575 | $16.99
Ebook ASIN: B0756DR699 | $11.99 (pre-order) | $26.99 (list price)
“Midwives are warriors in this beautifully sweeping tale.” – Kirkus Reviews
In an interview, PATRICIA HARMAN can discuss:
- Her 30+ year professional experience with midwifery and women’s health issues
- Her retirement from midwifery to focus on her career as a writer
- Historical parallels and rhetoric from the World War II era and modern times
- Her other books — including her memoirs and two children’s books
- Women’s health issues, childbirth trends, PTSD with childbirth, postpartum depression, suicide and the impact on family, menopause, women and stress
An Interview with Patricia Harman
Why did you choose to write about this era in American history? You came of age in the post-World War II America, in a time filled with compelling narratives and significant historical and cultural importance. Did you ever consider setting one of your books in the 1970s?
I set my first historical novel, “The Midwife of Hope River,” in the 1930s, at the beginning of the Great Depression. Our country was going through what we now call The Great Recession, and I thought readers would relate to the hardships of that era. When I finished the book, I realized I’d fallen in love with the characters, and I wanted to know more about them, so I have followed with two more novels, one set in 1935 and one in 1945. I’ve thought of writing about what would be happening in 1970, but right now I’m working on a new book, which begins in 1956 as the Civil Rights era is beginning in the United States.
Can you tell us more about your research for this book? How much did historical research dictate your fictional narrative?
The story of the people in the Hope River Valley reflects small town America responding to the big picture of what is happening in the world, so the research for my books is extensive. I use timelines, first person accounts and history websites. Sometimes I reach out to experts by email when I can’t find what I need on the Internet.
How did you go from being a midwife to being a bestselling author?
I have always been a storyteller. In my work as a midwife I tell stories to teach, to caution, to support and to entertain my patients. I never dreamed of being an author, but in 2008 when I was going through menopause I couldn’t sleep, and I began to write about my life and my patients. That was my first memoir, “The Blue Cotton Gown.” The book got so many good reviews that I just kept writing. It’s fun!
It sounds like you’ve had a very rewarding career to say the least, and you retired from midwifery about two years ago. Was that a difficult decision?
It took me several years to finally give up my day job. I loved taking care of women. What kind of work can you do where you give a dozen hugs a day? I felt that my patients really appreciated me, but I also loved writing and knew that readers appreciated my books. I was working two jobs and burning the candle at both ends. Finally, I decided to make a change. I could become an author and also further the cause of midwifery by writing about midwives!
You’re the mother of three sons — has that played into your writing at all?
My work has been entirely with females. Despite living with three sons and one husband, I’ve never really understood the way males feel and react. Interestingly, in my last two novels, the men have stepped forward and I have begun to write more about strong male protagonists.
You’ve mentioned in the past that you conducted your first home birth by accident — can you tell us more about that life-altering day?
Now that is a good story (and for the details you will have to read my second memoir, “Arms Wide Open: A Midwife’s Journey!”) Basically, in the mid-1970s I was the first Lamaze teacher in a small town in West Virginia. Many people from all over the U.S. were buying farms and starting intentional communities in the area at the time. We were interested in living non-violently, in harmony with the earth, and the land was cheap.
I was visiting a commune to give a private childbirth class to a friend, when a storm came up and we had to stay over. During the night, the woman went into labor. There was no way to get to the hospital, and I ended up delivering my first baby. It was such a beautiful experience that I went on to deliver many more at home and in the end I went back to school to become a nurse-midwife.