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The Secrets of Midwives: Book summary and reviews of The Secrets of Midwives by Sally Hepworth

The Secrets of Midwives

by Sally Hepworth

The Secrets of Midwives by Sally Hepworth X
The Secrets of Midwives by Sally Hepworth
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  • Published Dec 2015
    320 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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Book Summary

The Secrets of Midwives tells the story of three generations of women devoted to delivering new life into the world - and the secrets they keep that threaten to change their own lives forever.

Neva Bradley, a third-generation midwife, is determined to keep the details surrounding her own pregnancy - including the identity of the baby's father - hidden from her family and co-workers for as long as possible.  Her mother, Grace, finds it impossible to let this secret rest.  For Floss, Neva's grandmother and a retired midwife, Neva's situation thrusts her back 60 years in time to a secret that eerily mirrors her granddaughter's - a secret which, if revealed, will have life-changing consequences for them all. Will these women reveal their secrets and deal with the inevitable consequences? Or are some secrets best kept hidden?

First published in hardcover & ebook Feb 2015. Reprinted in paperback Jan 2016.

You can see the full discussion here. This discussion will contain spoilers!

Some of the recent comments posted about The Secrets of Midwives:

An interview with Sally Hepworth
If you'd like to know more about Sally Hepworth and this book, please click to read a short Q&A: [link][/link] and you can read an excerpt at: [link]... - davinamw

Did having all three women's viewpoints give you a richer picture of the women's individual stories?
I thought having the three voices made the story richer. It wasn't difficult to follow and it added to the genuineness of their issues and their secrets. - jodig

Did you find Floss's flashbacks to her past insightful?
I did find them helpful plus they added extra interest in the story. Sometimes flashbacks can make the storyline confusing, but this was not the case at all. I think it enhanced the book. - rosemarys

Did you have any guesses as to what Floss's secret was? Did your predictions change as the story was revealed?
I questioned whether Grace was actually Floss's baby or at the very least she had been the product of a rape. - debbielmc

Did you learn anything new about midwifery, birthing, or pregnancy in general while reading this novel?
Well, never having given birth, a lot of it was new to me. - bettyt

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Media Reviews

"The Secrets of Midwives is women's fiction at its finest." - Liane Moriarty, New York Times bestselling author of The Husband's Secret

"The Secrets of Midwives is a compelling exploration of life, loss, and love. Family secrets test the bonds between three women - Neva, her mother Grace, and her grandmother Floss - as they bring babies into the world and navigate their own complex paths." - Christina Baker Kline, New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train

"From the first page, I could not put The Secrets of Midwives down. Sally Hepworth delves into family secrets and family love in two different eras, adding mystery and plot twists at a breathless, exhilarating pace." - Ann Hood, bestselling author of The Knitting Circle

"Starred Review. This intelligent, well-plotted debut will draw readers in from the very first word and keep them engaged until the end." - Publishers Weekly

"One might expect values that include natural childbirth, motherhood, and mother/child bonding would mean something to these women. But Hepworth credibly paints them no less complexly human and contradictory than anybody else in a not altogether estrogen-drenched tale of redemption via truth." - Booklist

"Australian Hepworth's debut is deftly told with some historical elements mixed in. This thoughtful intergenerational story will delight readers - especially those who enjoy works exploring the topic of midwifery as in Chris Bohjalian's Midwives and the BBC series Call the Midwife." - Library Journal

"Fans of Call the Midwife will enjoy the vignettes of childbirth and the multigenerational female saga." - Kirkus

"The Secrets of Midwives is that rare novel that combines vibrant and nuanced characters with a breathtaking plot, and an almost mystical reverence for the magic of childbirth." - Beatrix Williams, New York Times bestselling author of A Hundred Summers

"Sally Hepworth illuminates one of the most important moments in a woman's life - when she becomes a mother - and spins a story that will hold you captivated till the very end." - Emily Giffin, New York Times bestselling author of The One and Only

This information about The Secrets of Midwives was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

Write your own reviewwrite your own review

Meredith Van Roessel

Floss, Grace, Neva
First of all I had just finished reading The Mother's Promise another remarkable book by Sally Hepworth. I then picked up The Secrets of Midwives and I was in complete awe from the first page you are able to see how diverse each character is. The secrets to me where secrets that all women may have to tell someone in their life. However I did think the ending was a little choppy. Overall I loved loved loved this novel and am now going to read The Things we Keep. Sally Hepworth is an excellent author who will keep you on your toes.

Joane wolpin

The secrets of midwives
I always enjoy generational sagas especially this book. The character's seem very human living with secrets past and present. I would love to see a followup

Diane M.

Excellent book
This was such a wonderful book. I didn't want it end. Three generations of women, all midwives. The grandmother and granddaughter have secrets which they wonder if they should be revealed and what effect the revealing of these secrets will have. Wonderful book.

Barbara P. (Hixson, TN)

Hated to see this book end!
A combination of mystery, family relationships, romance and character study, this novel is one of the best I've read in a long time. As a nurse, I found the medical story line accurate. The characters were both real and likable. The grandmother, mother, and daughter are all midwives and watching their story unfold was a truly delightful experience.

Barbara B. (Alta Loma, CA)

Are Keeping Secrets Best?
The title of this novel caught my attention immediately, as I am an OB nurse. I felt as though Ms. Hepworth was very well informed & medically knew what she was writing. In my experience, it is true that the hospital & staff may look down on Midwives & I wasn't surprised a doctor made a complaint, however , I had to agree with her nursing judgement.

What I liked most about this novel, was that for Neva, secrets weren't going to be a part of her life or her child's.

I also enjoyed the flashbacks of Floss' earlier life. This novel would be a great read for book clubs.

Mary F. (Goodyear, AZ)

Fun, quick read.
I enjoyed reading this book. It was a quick read, and I found that I did not want to put it down. I feel like I really got to know the characters of the book. I would have liked to be a member of their family! I was cheering for them all as I read the book.

This book appealed to me as a person in the medical field It was interesting to learn about the practice of a nurse midwife.

This book would make a good book club selection. A book club could spend hours talking about family secrets and the complexity of relationships within a family, especially motherly love. As an adoptive mother, I could relate to Floss's instant bonding with Neva as her child. As I write this review on my son's 13th birthday, I reflect on the relationship that we have. I can't imagine it could be any stronger if I have given birth to him myself.

...24 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Sally Hepworth Author Biography

Sally Hepworth is the bestselling author of six novels, most recently The Mother In Law (2019) which has been optioned by actress, Amy Poehler, for television. Her latest novel, The Good Sister is available in early 2021.

Drawing on the good, the bad and the downright odd of human behaviour, Sally writes incisively about family, relationships and identity. Her domestic thriller novels are laced with quirky humour, sass and a darkly charming tone. Sally's novels are available worldwide in English and have been translated into 20 languages. She lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband and three children.

Author Interview
Link to Sally Hepworth's Website

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  • The Things We Keep jacket

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