Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Birth House

WOW! I love this book! I say that in the present tense because I plan on reading it again and again. I really really love it!

The story is set in a small town - Scots Bay, Nova Scotia - in the midst of World War I. Dora, the main character of the novel, is a seventeen year-old girl on the brink of womanhood and a pre-destined midwife. The next character (if it were a movie she would be the supporting actress) is Marie Babineau, the long-time midwife of the town and a firey cajun woman, from the Louisiana bayou. She made the trek to Nova Scotia by foot after a visit from her (dead) great-grandfather who gave her the gift and knowledge of the traiteurs (healers). She uses all the traditional herbal remedies along with the mystical/religious remedies and takes Dora under her wing because she sees her as the next traiteur for the town.

Being set in the early 20th century, this is also the time of the beginnings of modern medicine. So this small seaside town is torn between the two: midwives or obstetritions, herbs and prayers or chlorophorm and forecepts.

I don't want to say anymore, I just want all of you to read it! It's definitely going to knock one of my books off the my top 10 list. I really could not put it down. It's written in the first person, in Dora's voice, which makes it a really fun read and draws you in from the first page. Plus, there are newspaper articles, ads and journal entries that make it even more fun. I shouldn't give you the wrong idea, though; I almost never cry in books, and this one drew the tears, and made me feel like I had a chicken bone stuck in my throat (remember 'My Girl'?). There are about a hundred child birth scenes, so it won't give anything away to put in an exerpt form one of them, to give you an idea of this book:

Miss B. called out to her, "God knows you're tired, dear, as do all the angels in heaven, so on this next push they're gonna help you get that baby out." Miss B.'s voice was firm. "You ain't got no choice... now here we go. Mother Mary, help this mama, help this baby, Mother Mary, Blessed Virgin, Our Lady of the Moon and the Star of the Sea, Ave Maria Stellas... un, deux, trois..." Mabel closed her eyes and let out a long, anguished wail. Bertine and Sadie cried out loud beside her, moaning right along with her, all three women letting out heavy groans. As the baby slipped out, all milky-looking and wet, I pulled the cord free from its neck. Miss B. scooped the baby up, opening its tiny mouth with her fingers. She held her mouth to the infant's, her cheeks puffing with gentle breaths, then made the sign of the cross over and over as the baby gave its first cry.
I LOVE THIS BOOK!!! At best, it makes me want to be a mid-wife and at worst it makes me want to be a better person...and read more by Ami McKay. I hope all my sisters get a chance to read it. Oh, and there's even a website for this book:

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Lord of the Rings

Well, it only took me about 8 months, but I finished it! I got through the first two books (The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Tours) pretty quickly, but then I guess I got too busy and The Return of the King took me about 4 months, at least, to finish. But, I'm happy to say I did!

This is one book that I really wish I had read when I was younger, and especially before the movies were made. It was nearly impossible for me to separate the movies from the books, which both added to and took away from my reading experience. For example, the characters already had faces, even before Tolkien described them. I'll always think of Frodo with the face of Elijah Wood and Legolas with the face of Orlando Bloom. On the other hand, I could really appreciate the depth of the book when discovering everything the movie had to leave out. (Admittedly, I couldn't help but feel like Tolkien left out a very important sub-plot between Aragorn and Aowyn.) :-)

I have definitely joined everyone else in the world who is completely floored with Tolkien's ability to create an entirely different world, leaving out nothing, down to most (seemingly)insignificant details. I love how every group of people (if you can call them all people - elves, dwarves, hobbits, orcs, dunedain, wizards, humans, ents...) had their own detailed history which created who they were throughout the story and gave insight as to why they chose to live however the lived, why they said what they said and why they did what they did. That continued to surprise me throughout the whole trilogy; it all came across so naturally.

My favorite times in the book were always with the hobbits. I was always waiting for the next chapter that would go back to Sam and Frodo or to Merry and Pippin. The rest was, of course, wonderful too, but I really love the hobbits. Samwise Gamgee will always be #1 in my heart. :-) The moments at the end of the Two Towers, while Frodo is being attacked by Shilob and Sam fights and kills her and takes the ring to try and finish the task alone, and then saves Frodo after he finds out that he's still alive - those were my proudest moments.

I'm sure I'm the last sister to read this book, so I want to know who/what you're favorites were! I love you all!