Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Ladies Book Club: June 2011

Book Read:
The Midwife's Confession by Diane Chamberlain

Ladies in Attendance:
7 members

Treats shared:
Fruit pizza, Milano Cookies, M&Ms, Hummus, Olives, Crackers, Corn/Black Bean/Tomato Salsa, Chips, Rice Krispie Bars, Brie and Bread, Lemonade and Limeade. It was all so darn delicious.

To Read or Not to Read:
5 ladies read all of it (one lady was not there)
2 ladies read 1/2 of it.
1 lady did not read it (she just got her copy the day before)

My Reaction:
I usually don't include a synopsis but this story is a little heavy with a lot going on so I am going to include a brief description from Goodreads.

Dear Anna,

What I have to tell you is difficult to write, but I know it will be far more difficult for you to hear, and I'm so sorry…

The unfinished letter is the only clue Tara and Emerson have to the reason behind their close friend Noelle's suicide. Everything they knew about Noelle—her calling as a midwife, her passion for causes, her love for her friends and family—described a woman who embraced life.

Yet there was so much they didn't know.

With the discovery of the letter and its heartbreaking secret, Noelle's friends begin to uncover the truth about this complex woman who touched each of their lives—and the life of a desperate stranger—with love and betrayal, compassion and deceit.

We moved the night of our book club for scheduling purposes and it happen to land on the hottest day of the year so far. Over 100 degrees with a dry, hot wind. I have a pretty tiny house with a big back yard and big back porch so I tend to host during the summer when I can take advantage of that.
We suffered through it even though we almost all blew away.

I was happy my club agreed to read this book. We had read another title of hers last summer and all enjoyed it. The publisher and author very kindly sent us copies for my club to read. I even had a few extra to give to my mom and a friend. So everyone was reading this book during the past few weeks.

Chamberlain packs quite a lot in her books. I can tell this after reading only two. There is a lot of drama and emotion. You, as a the reader, are faced with many moral dilemmas during it all and this one in particular left us all a little pissed off and spent.

I was surprised with how much this book was filled with the topics of motherhood and parenting, I was able to keep an emotional distance from it all. I think because the events take on such an extreme that I was able to think, "Gosh, this couldn't happen all the time, right?" I still had a few moments of jaw dropping reaction.

I plowed through this book really fast. Once it got going, you HAD to know what the confession was. There was no stopping me. For that, Chamberlain really has a gifted writing style that holds your interest like that. I enjoyed that pace.

It was pretty intense and upon reflection, I did find some flaws with the story and how quickly it was all wrapped up but overall, if you want a Jodi Picoult like drama filled novel of right and wrong, hope and despair, this would be it for you.

Be warned, it does include some raw details regarding children.

Ladies' Reaction:
Our discussion started out fairly low key. We all thought it was a fast, powerful read with a lot going on. But as time went on, some of the ladies felt very strongly about what happens in the book. I don't want to give away any spoilers but the character of Noelle, the midwife, was picked apart quite a bit. Some felt her character had so many secrets that you never felt like you really knew her or that she was a good friend. Some felt she isolated herself and that she set herself up for her suicide. (this comes out right in the beginning, no spoilers!)

Some of the ladies were angry with the events that took place. Some felt it hit them a bit too personally for them to really enjoy it. Some felt the ending was summed up too quickly and easily for how much happens in the overall book.

We went through the Reading Group Guide but felt that most of them were repeated and produced a lot of the same answers. As the discussion went on, we found ourselves having no trouble discussing our thoughts on the book. We discussed the friendship between Tara and Emerson and their daughters. We discussed the roles of the men, especially in relation to Tara's husband Sam and his close bond with Noelle.

I think the ladies enjoyed it enough to really come together and dish. It was something that not many of them would read on their own and because of that they really were intrigued to read it and bring their thoughts.

It wasn't all positive but it wasn't negative in the sense that any of them said, "Don't read this!" It was more a feeling of caution. This book will pack quite a punch. Beware.

Good Book Club Pick?
Yes, overall. We thought they could have done a little better with the Reading Group Guide questions but we had no trouble discussing it on our own. It had a lot going on and if you can get passed the emotions it may bring up in you, as a parent, as a friend, as a woman, then it could be a good pick for your club.

Author Website:

* Thank you to Harlequin for sending us copies to read. We all really appreciated the opportunity to read and discuss this novel.

Next Book Up:
The Help by Kathyrn Stockett

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child


Erin said...

One of the aspects I found difficult to understand was the way in which the characters Tara and Emerson continued to accept Noelle for who they knew her as - even as all of the secrets and drama unfolded. I would find her actions heinous and unforgivable and it left me feeling as though the author glazed over what could be really strong, raw emotions in order to finish the book with a feel-better ending.

Though I was captivated the whole way through and enjoyed the read over memorial weekend... it reminded me more of the "pre-teen drama-infused genre books.

Carol said...

Have not read this one.

Am looking forward to next month's Book Club thoughts on The Help.



Michelle Stockard Miller said...

Sounds like it really provoked some conversation. A good thing in a book club read. Glad you had fun!

Mystica said...

I was looking for this book and found another one by the same author (review done) and found it very good. I hope I eventually get to this one.

Mystica said...

I was looking for this book and found another one by the same author (review done) and found it very good. I hope I eventually get to this one.

StephTheBookworm said...

Wish that I was part of a book club in real life. Sounds like so much fun!

I wanted to get this book at BEA so bad, but right when I was up near her, she got up and left (ran out of books) a few people ahead of me in line. All I could think was "noooooo."

Glad to hear it was good. Sounds fast paced and intriguing! I have to get a copy!

Tales of Whimsy said...

Sounds like a great thought provoking read.

Misha said...

I enjoyed The Midwife's Confession - it was an intense and at times, a very emotional read. The only problem was that I found myself liking Noelle less and less as the story progressed.

Sarah M said...

This is definitely an emotional read. I can see how it would generate a lot of discussion.

The Help is another great read. I'm sure you will have lots to discuss for it as well.