Friday, May 6, 2011

Five Umbrella Friday: The Midwife's Confession by Diane Chamberlain

My Friday pick of the week would make a great mother's day gift as it has broad appeal across age divisions and reading preferences!

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Attention Mama friends! I have your summer book club selection right here. Diane Chamberlin has *the* women’s fiction tear jerker of the season with an offering sure to ignite book club discussions across the country. This was not an easy read, and when I was done, I desperately wanted to make someone, anyone read it RIGHT THAT DARN MINUTE so that I could discuss at length. In other words, it was awesome even as it turned me inside out.

The base premise is familiar: when their best friend since college commits suicide, two early 40s women are left searching for answers. The execution, however, is stunning in the web of secrets and lies uncovered in a masterful plot that relies on a rotating cast of narrators, including the deceased in flashbacks, to uncover the confession the midwife just couldn’t bring herself to make. The lives of three families are changed forever, and the women at the heart of the story are what make it so readable and compelling. Each is a sympathetic, complex character, and my heart just bled for them over and over.

I carried my nook from room to room, refusing to skim ahead, yet unable to function until I found out the truth. Except the truth kept changing and mutating, and the solving of one mystery merely led to another in a brilliant, twisting path of deception that kept my pulse racing all the way to the epilogue. I’m being purposely vague about the plot as that rollercoaster sense of what-the-heck is happening is priceless. Make no mistake, however, Chamberlin ferrets out all of our hot buttons as women—unexpected death, motherhood, adultery, separation, adoption, birth, parenthood, lying, identity—and jumps all over them with her wicked pen. But it’s not in a gratuitous way at all, and the book deftly avoids sinking into lifetime-movie-of-the-week melodrama (although it certainly is a 10 hanky read). Chamberlin has a rich backlist, yet somehow I’ve missed out on her unique offering to the women’s fiction market. Fans of Susan Wiggs, Robyn Carr, and Jodi Picoult will adore this heart wrenching tale of friendship and the lengths one is willing to go to protect those we love most.

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