Review: The Midwife’s Confession by Diane Chamberlain

The Midwife's ConfessionDear 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.” – Goodreads

In The Midwife’s Confession by Diane Chamberlain, a trio of close friends is torn apart by the suicide of one of the women. Noelle, Tara, and Emerson have been best friends since meeting in college. They have been there for each other during all of {adult} life’s major events. The book opens as Noelle is preparing to commit suicide. The scene is somewhat confusing because of her obvious love for the world around her, yet she is oddly at peace with her decision.

Lifting her arm, she outlined the circle of the moon with her fingertip. Felt her eyes burn. I love you, world, she whispered.”

After learning of Noelle’s death, Tara and Emerson are shocked and grief-stricken. There had been no warning signs – Noelle had not been depressed, and she had been so happy with her job as a midwife. Suicide was the last thing the two women would have ever expected from Noelle. They resolve to investigate Noelle’s life and determine what happened that caused her to end her life. Emerson and Tara soon discover that Noelle’s life held many secrets – everything from her past, to her career, to her relationships with themselves and their families become suspect as they learn more and more about Noelle’s web of secrets and lies. And quite the web it is, my friends. Every time you think you’ve got things figured out, Chamberlain throws you for another loop – and then yet another one.

Soon, Emerson discovers an unfinished letter written by Noelle to a woman named Anna apologizing to her for committing an unspeakable crime – and in explaining the reason for her crime, admitting to yet another act of heinousness. As the two friends seek to put to rights the wrong that Noelle did, one last shocking secret is revealed – one that will shake the friends and their families to the core, changing them irrevocably as their very foundations are threatened.

Told from alternating viewpoints, Chamberlain seamlessly weaves the words of Tara, Emerson, their daughters, Noelle, and another mother/daughter duo, to create a complex tale of secrets, loss, betrayal, mystery, friendship and family, love, and forgiveness. In addition to Noelle’s drama, there is also a focus on mother/daughter relationships in this book, as well as the obvious focus of the bonds that can form in friendships between women. I think a major question that this book raises is whether or not you let a person’s despicable actions define their being as a whole, when they are good in so many other ways. If you love someone, and you know the goodness that is in them, and you learn of a heinous act they have committed – how do you reconcile that in your own mind, in your own conscience? It is truly food for thought, and a great topic for discussion among friends and family.

If you have a friend, I pondered, a good friend, a woman you love, and you learn she’s done something abominable, do you stop loving her?”

I greatly enjoyed The Midwife’s Confession by Diane Chamberlain. While it took me a couple of chapters to fully feel my way into the story, once I did – I was a goner. It was definitely a struggle to put down. I have certainly gained an appreciation for Chamberlain’s writing and will look for more of her books in the future.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Lincoln City Libraries Digital Downloads

The Midwife’s Confession: Book Trailer {2011}

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