Books about Midwives and Midwifery: Background information when reading Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away

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Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away

by Christie Watson

Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away by Christie Watson
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    May 2011, 448 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Beverly Melven

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Beyond the Book:
Books about Midwives and Midwifery

Print Review

Blessing becomes her grandmother's apprentice midwife in Tiny Sunbirds Far Away, becoming part of a long and proud historical tradition in her family, and in the human family.

The word "midwife," is from Old English midwif, meaning "with woman", which frames the idea of midwifery - to be with a woman during the birthing process - along side her, rather than doing something to her, or delivering her baby for her. Women have traditionally been midwives in virtually all human cultures, even those which frown on women being independent or having power of their own. It is only in the last few centuries, with the medicalization of childbirth, that men have given them any competition.

Here is a collection of novels and memoirs featuring midwives and midwifery.

The Red TentThe Red Tent by Anita Diamant (1997). The retelling of the biblical story of Jacob, but this time from the perspective of the women in the story - starring Dinah, her mother Leah, and her three aunt-mothers, one of whom is a midwife and trains Dinah to be one as well.

Granny Midwives and Black Women Writers by Valerie Lee (1996). This non-fiction book examines the tradition of 'granny midwives' in the southern United States in tandem with the literary examples of midwives in the works of prominent Black women authors such as Toni Morrison.


Monique and the Mango RainsMonique and the Mango Rains by Kris Holloway (2006).  The memoir of a Peace Corps volunteer who spent two years shadowing a midwife in Mali, West Africa.

A Midwife's Story by Penny Armstrong & Sheryl Feldman (2006). The true-life story of Penny Armstrong, a practicing midwife among the Amish of rural Pennsylvania.

Baby CatcherBaby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife by Peggy Vincent (2003). The memoir of a modern midwife in California who has delivered more than 2000 babies in her 40 years in the field.

The Birth House by Ami McKay (2006).  A Canadian novel about a midwife in the early 20th century, and the conflict between traditional methods and modern medicine.

The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth (2002).  The memoir of a nunnery-trained midwife working in the slums of East London in the mid-20th century.

Article by Beverly Melven

This article is from the June 15, 2011 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.

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