Friday, March 14, 2014

Book Review: The Midwife's Confession by Diane Chamberlain

Release date: April 26, 2011
Info about author: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: Mira
Age group: Adult
Pages: 417
Buy the book: Amazon - The Book Depository 

Rating: 4/5

Description (from Goodreads):

Dear Anna,
What I have to tell you is difficult to write, but I know it will be far more difficult for you to hear, and I'm so sorry-
The unfinished letter is the only clue Tara and Emerson have to the reason behind their close friend Noelle's suicide. Everything they knew about Noelle - her calling as a midwife, her passion for causes, her love for her friends and family - described a woman who embraced life.
Yet there was so much they didn't know.
With the discovery of the letter and its heartbreaking secret, Noelle's friends begin to uncover the truth about this complex woman who touched each of their lives - and the life of a desperate stranger - with love and betrayal, compassion and deceit.
I have to admit that The Midwife's Confession is the type of book I would never normally pick up. It has a baby in the cover and I am not really a baby-person, so already that would have normally distanced me from this one. Also, it focuses more on women of my mother's age rather than on my own age, which usually is also a turn-off for me. But for the month of June I decided to randomly pick the books for my TBR pile and this is the first one that I picked out.
And wow, let me tell you how happy I am that I did so. 
At the beginning of the novel, Noelle, a 40-something woman commits suicide. She is calm and confident, and it seems that she has been kind of expecting it. When Emerson, her friend, finds her, questions about why Noelle did it come to the surface. With Tara, also a good friend of Noelle, Emerson starts to look into Noelle's life, and as they learn more about it, they start to realize that they did not actually know Noelle that well, despite the fact that they had been friends for a really long time.
The novel has multiple narrators and it is divided into three sections. Section one is narrated by Tara and Emerson in the present and by Noelle, who provides glimpses to her life beginning from her childhood. In the second part, Anna, a woman who's child got missing after she gave birth to her is added to the list of narrators. In the third part of the novel we learn things also through the eyes of Grace, Tara's daughter.
I really liked all of the narrators. Noelle is a completely mystery throughout the novel - there are things that I really liked about her, but also things that made me judge her a bit. Emerson is strong, but also reacts realistically to the things she learns about Noelle, the woman she thought she knew really well. Tara has been through a lot - her husband has died recently and the relationship she has with her daughter is complicated. Anna has been looking for her daughter for years, without hope. And Grace is going through some issues with her own life, at the same time trying to recover from losing her father. When all the secrets Noelle kept are brought to the surface, the life of these characters will never be the same.
I am quite surprised of how much I actually enjoyed this novel. I had not heard about it before and the author was unknown to me. But once I started, I really could not put it down. I read it untill 4.30am the night I started reading it, and had to finish it right after sleeping for a couple of hours. 
I think what made me want to keep reading was the way the story was structured. As you read on, you get more and more information, and once you think that you know the answers to the questions, everything is turned upside down. I really thought I had the whole thing figured out, but then towards the end everything changed. The writing is very good and descriptive - you really get to know a lot about these characters and their feelings. 
I thoroughly enjoyed The Midwife's Confession and I am more than interested to read other novels by Diane Chamberlain. Are you familiar with her works? If so, please give me recommendations!  

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