The Birth House

The Birth House

Published by Vintage Canada

Defended by Debbie Travis

The miracle of birth and the struggle to live a good life; the miracle of a good life and the struggle to be born -- these are just a few of the themes explored in Ami McKay's poignant debut novel, The Birth House.

The novel is set in a small Nova Scotia community during a period of great change: in Europe, the First World War is raging. In North America advances in medicine and social organization are radically altering they way people live. It's an era charged with tumult, destruction and social revolution.

Dora Rare is the daughter of an East Coast shipbuilder. As the first female in five generations of Rares, young Dora more than lives up to her singular surname. As a teenager, she becomes apprenticed to the local midwife, the peculiar Acadian-Creole, Marie Babineau, from whom she learns about the ancient, almost mystical traditions of midwifery. Under Marie's care, the babies of Scots Bay, Nova Scotia, are born at home, among friends and family. Together, Dora and Marie serve the local women not simply as midwives, but as confessors and healers, too. But when Dr. Gilbert Thomas sets up an obstetrics practice in the same community, Dora and Marie must fight to preserve the sanctity of their efforts and the validity of their traditions.

A national bestseller, The Birth House won the Ontario Library Association's 2007 Evergreen Award and was named one of the best books of the decade by Chapters Indigo.

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