REVIEW: The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife's Memoir by Patricia Harman

Publisher: Beacon Press
ISBN: 978080707289
Genre: Memoir
Length: 290 pgs
Format: Hardcover
Reviewer: Sassy Brit

Patricia's calling to be a midwife came during her time living in a hippie commune where she met Tom, then a bearded hippie beekeeper, now an ob-gyn doctor.  Together they open their own women's health clinic in West Virginia, and welcome women and all their problems into their life: patients such as Nila with six children and a potentially dangerous husband, Heather and her drug taking boyfriend T.J., and Kasmar, who needs a sex change to be happy.

However, at the same time Patricia is caring for those whom came to her for help she also has her own worries. She discovers that their surgery accountant hasn't been doing his job properly and through no fault of their own there are now concerns about a large amount of tax returns to submit. In addition, they also have to deal with Patricia's own health issues, and possible peer-review committees, which relate to unjustified complaints from a patient of theirs. A regular worry for anyone working in the same line of business these days.

Broken into five parts, Spring, through Winter and then back to Spring again, Patricia's memoir recounts her memories of the patients which entered not only her practice, but her heart. Of course, the names have been changed for confidentiality reasons, but these women are real and have been through some intense life-changing challenges, both happy and heartbreaking. The quality of the writing is second to none, and I have to say that although I know it's a memoir, it often didn't read as one. I consider the reason for this to be Patricia's ability to provide an extremely open and honest peek into her life that was just as engrossing as a fictional story. It is sad in places, but it is also very uplifting. I feel this memoir will help many women to know that others have been through similar problems, whether these be health or other personal issues. It will also make  a great read, I am sure, for anyone in the medical profession. Is the stress of the job really worth it? I think the compassion and emotion from Patricia's words will answer that one for you once you read her book. All in all this is a celebration of how strong women can be when faced with adversity, whoever they are and whatever their background. I enjoyed it immensely and hope you will too. The "Inside Story" by Sassy Brit and her Gang!
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  1. Nice review. This book looks interesting. I like the way it is broken down into seasons. I wonder if that helps the readability.

  2. This book has been on my wish list for months. It sounds so good it will certainly be worth the wait. I love memoirs, especially ones that take place in WV...I used to live there. :)

  3. Superb review. I've not heard of this before.

  4. patricia harman4:18 pm

    Dear Sassy and all, I'm glad you appreciated The Blue Cotton Gown and hope your readers will. It is interesting that you said the book read like a novel even though it was non-fiction. I think that is true and it has to do with the structure, as well as the suspense. When I started to write about the women I see in the exam room, I didn't know that over the course of a year i would become involved in some very dramatic events. Each night I would come home and write almost like a journal, short passages about the patients I saw. It was only later that I realized I had enough for a book. In fact, I had to choose to leave some women out. The Blue Cotton Gown speaks for all women, regardless of culture or class or country. Peace be with you.
    Patricia Harman, author of The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife's Memoir.


Thanks for taking the time to leave a sassy comment. It's truly appreciated. I aim to get back to you as soon as possible -- Sassy :)