Tuesday, October 24, 2006

103. "Midwives" ~ Chris Bohjalian



Sybil Danforth made a rapid decision during a blizzard-ice storm in rural Vermont - how to save the baby whose mother, Charlotte, died during labor.

Or so Sybil believes. Yet two witnesses to the midwife's blunt surgery say that blood "spurted" from the wound. Did Sybil accidentally kill Charlotte?

Told from the point of view of Connie, Sybil's daughter (an OB-GYN, interestingly enough), we learn how one harp string can resonate long after it is plucked. And a lot about vaginas. There is even a vagina that yawns, which pleased me to no end because that is the first line in one of my short stories that was massacred during a fiction writing workshop in graduate school.

But I digress.

Each chapter begins with one of Sybil's journal entries, which are beautifully written in a powerful voice. But it's the sing-song tempo of Bohjalian's plotting and description that amazed me. Need an example of effective dialogue? Here. Need to know about creating suspense? Here.

I did not anticipate the ending. This may throw some of you off, so you will. I hope not because it was such a delight.

4.5 out of 5.0 Midori Sours.

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