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Into the Closet: Cross-Dressing and the Gendered Body in Childrens Literature and Film (Children's Literature and Culture)
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A Midwife's Story - Penny Armstrong, Sheryl Feldman This is the story of a young midwife's journey from a student in Glasgow to setting up her own clinic amongst the Amish in rural Pennsylvania.

I was dithering between giving this book three or four stars, but eventually decided on three because there was a lot that irritated me about it, despite the fact I enjoyed the read.

For a start, A Midwife's Story is rather preachy. Yes, it puts a good case forward for the more natural methods of childbirth over excessive medical intervention, but it felt a bit over the top. Were hospitals really that bad, or are Penny Armstrong's thoughts biased from her time amongst the Amish? Though, considering this book was written almost twenty years ago, I'm pretty sure much has changed in hospital delivery rooms nowadays, and perhaps things were that bad. I've realised by now, however, that most medical (doctor, nursing or midwifery) memoirs will have SOMETHING bad to say about the hospital system or the NHS - I just wish they weren't so preachy about it.

Another thing that irritated me was how Penny held the Amish in much higher esteem than their 'English' counterparts. I have a lot of respect for the Amish and their way of life, but no one's way of life is better than anyone else's. I didn't appreciate feeling as though my own way of life was somehow inadequate.

That said, descriptions of the Amish and their customs were done really well, with affection and zero judgement. There was no 'look how weird the Amish are!'; rather, it was 'this is how it's done amongst the Amish'. It was fascinating, and I enjoyed learning about the Amish as much as I enjoyed learning about Penny's life as a midwife.

Perhaps the most annoying thing about this book was the fact the author kept putting names in like we were supposed to know who she was talking about. One chapter she kept mentioning 'Stephen', and then a chapter or so later she said something like 'Dr Kaufman - Stephen - blah blah blah...' THAT should have gone in when he was first introduced, not after she had been alternating between Dr Kaufman and Stephen for a chapter already.

Aside from that, the book was really well written and I enjoyed some of the nostalgic descriptions of nature, the land and people. The author certainly knows how to use words to great effect.

Despite it's flaws, this was a fascinating read. I have a huge interest in midwifery, though my own dreams of becoming a midwife were shattered, and this was an interesting and informative insight into the past.

I would recommend this book to anyone with a passing interest in midwifery or the Amish.