The Midwife’s Confession by Diane Chamberlain

The Midwife's ConfessionThe Midwife’s Confession by Diane Chamberlain

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Midwife’s Confession is a very good book. It’s a solid 4-star novel, and I am very glad to have recently discovered author Diane Chamberlain.
The Midwife’s Confession will appeal to fans of Liane Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret. It’s a story with several female friends as lead characters and narrators. The story goes between past and present, and deals with family secrets. The Midwife’s Confession is mostly set in North Carolina and Virginia, so it has a welcoming southern feel and charm.
Things I liked about The Midwife’s Confession:
1. The characters were all very well developed and loveable. I could tell which narrator out of five was speaking if I opened the book randomly to any page. This says a lot about the character development, given that the narrators were three best friends another woman, and a daughter. A less talented author might have struggled to distinguish their voices, but in the capable hands of Diane Chamberlain, each woman has a recognizable voice.
2. This book made me care about making a difference. Main themes in the story include friendship, guilt, and forgiveness. Main issues include the controversies surrounding midwifery, as well as the struggles of children dealing with cancer. In Haley, a 12-year-old with leukemia, we have a believable, spunky heroine who we root for as she waits for a bone marrow transplant. Reading The Midwife’s Confession made me want to go online and find out more about how I could donate blood or bone marrow. Chamberlain’s novel made me more aware of the ways that I could help those fighting cancer.
3. The mystery was complex, but well plotted. As someone who reads lots of mysteries and thrillers, I was happy that I did not figure out Noelle’s secret until the reveal at the end of the novel.
4. In this vein, Diane Chamberlain knows how to pull off a reveal in a satisfying way. A lot of contemporary mystery novels suffer from being apparently conceived from a far-fetched plot twist. The characters are secondary to the surprise. In The Midwife’s Confession, Diane Chamberlain creates characters that feel utterly real and important. Thus, the plot twist has real impact, rather than simply feeling like a device created to elicit shock.

Things that I would have liked to see in this novel: (or why I didn’t give it 5 stars).
1. As I greedily devoured this 400+ page novel, I realized several times that one thing that was missing was humor. The topics the novel dealt with were heavy…suicide, cancer, death, betrayal, and I really cared about the characters dealing with them. I think it would have been nice if Chamberlain could have inserted lightness here and there, in the way that Liane Moriarty does so beautifully in her novels. Moriarty also deals with heartbreaking topics, but I laughed out loud quite frequently while reading The Husband’s Secret and What Alice Forgot. A little humor would have been a breath of fresh air in The Midwife’s Confession.
2. When I think about it, there are a couple of plot threads that I don’t think were fully explained.

Those are really my only quibbles with The Midwife’s Confession. I enjoyed reading this novel, and while to me, it wasn’t quite as deep as The Husband’s Secret, or as the depressing but amazing Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty, The Midwife’s Confession was by no means fluff. It was a compelling, engrossing story.
Diane Chamberlain’s bio states that she has written 23 novels. Normally I shy away from authors who are especially prolific, because sometimes that seems to be a red flag that they are simply churning out cookie-cutter commercial fluff. But when I saw that Diane Chamberlain was the author of 23 books, I thought to myself, “she is a born storyteller.”
Happily, Chamberlain has a gift, and she is sharing it with the world. I’m looking forward to reading more of her work.

View all my reviews

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