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The Birth House

So, here I am again, getting antsy on what I am going to read. I have found a book I had set aside a couple of years ago, so I will finish that in the meantime. I started the Case of the Exploding Mangoes, and just couldn't get into it yet...not the book for me at the moment. I will try to revisit that one. It has been a busy time at our home lately, so making the time to get out and find a book on the list has been a challenge. either way, as long as others are reading 'The Blue Sweater' than I am all set for now because I read it and loved it. Is anyone reading it????

So, instead of finding ones we were discussing, I chose to write about a novel I have read a couple of times now and loved.

The Birth House

I read this book two years ago, on our way to the east coast of Canada where this novel is set. A tiny little community called Scots Bay, in the Annapolis Valley region in the province of Nova Scotia. The author, Ami McKay, wrote the book after learning that the home her family purchased was once a ‘birth house’ where the women of the Bay came to give birth. I just finished re-reading it, and loved it even more the second time.
The book is set in the early 1900’s, around the time of the first world war and focuses on a major issue of the time- that of the midwife being challenged by the newest medical technologies to give women a “painless” childbirth. Dr. Thomas is the director of the Canning maternity home, and does all he can to discredit the safety of birth at home.
The midwife in reference is one Marie Babineau, an older wise Creole woman who helps mamas to ‘bring them babies down’ with a whole lot of intuition and natural remedies. She is often paid with a share of the family’s new crop of potatoes or a few cabbages from the root cellar- which fits her just fine in exchange for the mothers trusting her with the baby’s and their own lives. Of course, Dr. Thomas is more than happy to provide a more proper birth for the women, as long as they are ready to take the long trip over North Mountain to his clinic- and buy a share in his pursuits of the finer medicine for proper women.
At the heart of the story is Dora Rare. The only girl born in the Rare family in generations, and as her fate would have it, the successor to Miss Babineau’s provision of midwifery services in Scot’s Bay. She is so beautifully written, that honestly, it is difficult to believe that she doesn’t exist. Even though I have been to Scot’s Bay, she is so brought to life in the novel that I would fully believe I could go there to find her.
Dora faces so many challenges because of her willingness to continue to give the women of the Bay an opportunity to have their babies birthed at home, and fights the often-scheming ways of Dr. Thomas, not to mention the women in the Bay who are now being led to believe that his way may be the best after all.
There is love, loss, hope, discovery, history and at the heart of it the age old issue of women having choice and support to choose their place of birth, and how that birth will happen, as much as is possible in such an unpredictable endeavor. The book is this, and so much more.
A wonderful book by a Canadian author, and an intelligent glimpse into the world of the fight between a woman’s right to be informed, the support to let her strength come through versus the experience of being told what is best for her with little information.



It's so nice to have the option to read a book for enjoyment, versus text books of academia. Thank you for sharing such titles and I look forward to reading them and perhaps, discussing them with you and others.



Look for the message in the mess!

Darcey's picture


Hi SunFish!!

Glad to hear from you!! I am sad to read your post though and know that now you probably won't be able to find this book at your local library. Well, except maybe on cd. Crazy. I can't even imagine.

There are so many wonderful recommendations by other members as well, take a look through some of our old posts in this group and there are so many great books to choose from.

Looking forward to hearing more from you on PulseWire!!!


"A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality."
— John Lennon

Sharese's picture


Sorry I have been MIA. I am back in action now! I will surely send you a private email soon to update you.

This book sounds wonderful (I found the book Midwives by Chris Bohjalian riveting so I am sure I will like this one) and I have wanted to check out the Case of Exploding Magoes ever since you first mentioned it.

I am sending you love and good vibes always!!!



Darcey's picture


Hey Sharese!!!
So glad to hear from you....I have been so bad at writing back!!! You are on my list of people to write letters to, I have been terrible with that lately and getting backed up.

It is SO hot here right now..only a couple of weeks left until my due date and it is 8:30 pm and the local weather just said that with humidity it is 40 degrees. whew! I am sure that is pretty normal for a lot of place in our world, but man! I am Canadian and I am finding it so hot.

Anyway- I haven't read the midwives book yet- but have seen it around, I will have to check it out, I am bookless again soon. I am reading a parenting book at the moment called Hold onto Your Kids- so great, it is very insightful and written by two Canadian psychologists who are very clear on telling parents about following their instincts instead of trying to read two dozen parenting books about trying to figure out their children. Very child-friendly and supportive.

I think you would really like the Birth House. Like I said, I have read it twice and it was just so much more vivid for me the second time around. I couldn't get into the Case of Exploding Mangoes at all. It just isn't the right time I guess, but heard from other members in the book club that it was worth a read.

Looking forward to your e-mail and I will get on the letter writing asap!!!!

love to you,

"A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality."
— John Lennon's picture

Woww thanks for this great

Woww thanks for this great info, i am sure going to read it. Wish i could be a midwife and we can all go to a living in which we were tuned to our bodies, minds and pirits,

In lake'ch: I am another you.

Darcey's picture

glad to hear

glad to hear from you- I would love to hear your comments about the book if you read it. There is so much work to do everywhere in the world for women to be able to speak the truth about their bodies. I find even here in Canada talking to new mothers and hearing their experience of women nurses telling them that their instincts during the birthing process is not real....very sad to me.

midwives are incredible!!!

"A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality."
— John Lennon

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