It's the story of a midwife, Sibyl, who has to perform an emergency C-section in the middle of an icy winter night and the mother dies. But was the mother dead beofre Sibyl performed the C-section or did the procedure kill her?
Sibyl is put on trial for the mother's death.
The story is told by Sibyl's adult daughter Connie (she was a teenager at the time of the trial) through a series of flashbacks, and each chapter is prefaced by an excerpt from Sibyl's journals.
I loved the characters in this book. I was rooting for Connie and Sibyl through the whole book. The way Connie describes events as an adult remember what it was like to be a teen in a difficult time is fascinating. And having the journal entries helps give an idea of what was in Sibyl's mind without distracting from Connie's main storytelling.
I did have a couple of problems with the book. A minor one was every now and then Connie throwing in something that was not part of the timeline of the events leading up to the trial or the trial itself. Sometimes it was enlightening, but more often than not it was just irrelevant and distracting.
My major issue with the book is how, aside from one fate-changing incident, the trial was a let down. Throughout the story there are hints of a conflict between the medical establishment and the lay midwives, and I was hoping more of that would come to light during the trial, but it didn't. I really wish they had gone more into the conflict, since it is an issue that is relevant even now.
It's a good, entertaining and easy read, though.
Incidentally, Chris Bohjalian is a man, which completely blew me away. He really managed to get into a woman's mind regarding childbirth. Amazing for someone who has never been pregnant!
Anyway, I'm done with my copy and would be happy to pass it along, just leave a comment!