See all Patricia Harman's books, memoirs, historical fiction and now her first children's book

Contemporary Fiction
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The Runaway Midwife is now out and coming your way!

The Runaway Midwife
Midwife Clara Perry is accustomed to comforting her pregnant patients, calming fathers-to-be as they anxiously await the birth of their children, and ensuring the babies she delivers come safely into this world. But in THE RUNAWAY MIDWIFE, Clara’s mental health has been dangling by a thread since she discovered her husband’s infidelity. Now, as she reels from her best friend’s suicide and the sudden, tragic death of a patient in childbirth, that thread snaps.
Clara does the only thing she can think of: she runs. Leaving without a word to anyone, she crosses the border into Canada and heads for a small, remote island in Lake Erie. On Sea Gull Island, she reinvents herself as Sara Livingston, a writer seeking solitude and peace—but there’s no avoiding the outside world. The residents are friendly and draw “Sara” into their lives and confidences. She volunteers at the local medical clinic using her midwifery skills, and slowly forms a tentative relationship with an enigmatic local police officer. But what will happen if she lets her guard down and reveals her secret?

Amid all the revelations and heartbreaks in store, one lesson becomes clear in THE RUNAWAY MIDWIFE: that the life you never imagined can sometimes prove to be exactly the one you need.

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THE RELUCTANT MIDWIFE A Hope River Novel
THE RELUCTANT MIDWIFE
A Hope River Novel
Patricia Harman

USA TODAY bestselling author PATRICIA HARMAN returns with an unforgettable follow up to The Midwife of Hope River, once again creating a beautifully imagined story, full of humor and human warmth.
In THE RELUCTANT MIDWIFE (on sale March 3, 2015; ISBN 9780062358240; $14.99) the Great Depression has hit rural West Virginia hard. Men are out of work and women struggle to feed hungry children. Nurse Becky Myers has returned to care for the community just when they need her most.

While she can handle most situations, Becky is squeamish and uneasy about delivering babies. When confronted with frantic mothers-to-be, she relies on her dear friend Patience Murphy an experienced midwife, for guidance.

Though she is happy to be back in Hope River, time and experience have tempered Becky’s cheerfulness, as tragedy has destroyed the vibrant spirit of her former employer Dr. Isaac Blum. Patience too has changed. Married and expecting a baby herself, she is relying on Becky to keep the mothers of Hope River safe.

THE RELUCTANT MIDWIFE brings the memorable story of how Becky reshapes her life, first as a reluctant assistant in Patience’s midwifery, and later as a heroic nurse dealing with a calamitous forest fire at a Civilian Conservation Corps camp. Becky also grows into the role of encouraging supporter, bringing Isaac back to life, and helping them both discover unexpected gems in their friendship that expand the meaning of family, love and fate.
With humor and empathy PATRICIA HARMAN deftly captures the despair of one of America’s darkest chapters, and of sudden tragedy—and by contrast, the joy and resilience of the human spirit. THE RELUCANT MIDWIFE is the perfect follow up to The Midwife of Hope River, and as Booklist has said, for “fans of the BBC’s Call the Midwife …”

The Midwife of Hope River

Seeking refuge from the law in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, Patience Murphy sets out as a midwife in the wake of the 1929 stock-market crash. Armed with a birth satchel and what confidence she can muster, she delivers babies for blacks and whites who can no longer afford a doctor, accepting payment in chickens and flour and the occasional coin. Harman, herself a midwife, transports the reader to another time and place in this quiet story of a white woman who fights to usher life into an impoverished, prejudiced world. As Patience struggles to overcome her dark past, she opens her heart to Daniel, a lonely veterinarian, and her home to Bitsy, a black servant who becomes her apprentice and close companion, rousing the attention of the Klan. There’s a whole lot of birthing going on in The Midwife of Hope River, but don’t let that dissuade you from reading it. The author’s love for the profession shines through in this testament to the power of women. A first novel well worth attention. --Diane Holcomb


“As always when writing of birth, the bleakest of times can be transformed by the power and beauty of birth...the moments of joy between new parents and their baby, between the mothers and the midwife, and between the midwife and her young assistant, light up the pages. Amen baby!” (Penny Armstrong, CNM, author of A Midwife's Story and A Wise Birth)

“I learned, I laughed, I cried, but most of all I was deeply impressed by the artistry of the midwife and her central role in women’s lives prior to the advent of commercialized, institutionalized medicine. This novel will live in my heart for years to come.” (Amy Hill Hearth, author of Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society: A Novel)

“Midwives are warriors in this beautifully sweeping tale.” (Kirkus)

“...will definitely renew your faith in love, loyalty, forgiveness, understanding and just plain HOPE.” (Fran Lewis)

“Memoirist Harman (Arms Open Wide; The Blue Cotton Gown), herself a certified nurse-midwife, takes readers back to hardscrabble times and adds plenty of medical drama and a dash of romance, to offer an uncommonly good piece of American historical fiction.” (Library Journal)


Arms Wide Open: A Midwife's Journey

In her first, highly praised memoir, The Blue Cotton Gown, Patricia Harman recounted the stories that patients brought into her exam room, and her own story of struggling to help women as a nurse-midwife. In Arms Wide Open, a prequel to that acclaimed book, Patsy tells the story of growing up during one of the most turbulent times in America and becoming an idealistic home-birth midwife.


"Patricia Harman's unflinching honesty and soaring poetry unfold the dream and the reality of the rural communes, political activism, and urban counterculture in the 1970s, and what we, the veterans of that particular era of bohemian life, have become today. She weaves in the telling details-the songs we sang, the clothes we wore, the glories of nature we witnessed, and, most especially, the causes for which we organized and the austerities we endured willingly, for the sake of the earth and all her children." --Alicia Bay Laurel, author and illustrator of Living on the Earth


"A sparkling, vivid story of how a midwife is born-and survives. This story takes you places you never expect to go." --Tina Cassidy, author of Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born



"There are more honest, revealing moments here than in many memoirs. Harman, whose prose is sparse but not simple, covers a span of decades, deftly revealing her own youthful struggles with identity through the children we witnessed her raising earlier in her book, revealing, in short, a full life." —Publishers Weekly

“The heart of Arms Wide Open is birthing, but its soul is sustainable living and a spirit of environmentally friendly management of resources. Harman’s commitment to this theme permeates her book, and with similar focus on other contemporary issues, it is relevant for a vast array of readers.”—Rain Taxi

“This new memoir is a peek at midwife Patsy Harman’s early hippie days, a world where idealism and compassion never cease to matter, where her commune mates struggle—sometimes successfully, sometimes not—against an unjust/unwinable war with a limitless sense of personal commitment and self-sacrifice. It’s good to hear these stories, good to remember the fervor against the Vietnam War and our collective voices raised in protest. It’s heartening to know that the indomitable Midwife Harman still carries on the legacy of those years with a message that is still vital and necessary all these years later.”—Carol Leonard, Midwife and author of Lady’s Hands, Lion’s Heart, a Midwife’s Saga

“Patricia Harman’s unflinching honesty and soaring poetry unfold the dream and the reality of the rural communes, political activism, and urban counterculture in the 1970s, and what we, the veterans of that particular era of bohemian life, have become today. She weaves in the telling details—the songs we sang, the clothes we wore, the glories of nature we witnessed, and, most especially, the causes for which we organized and the austerities we endured willingly, for the sake of the earth and all her children.”—Alicia Bay Laurel, author and illustrator of Living on the Earth

“Arms Wide Open is more than a book about delivering babies and bringing new life into the world; it’s about the deterioration of the optimism once so prevalent in the cracks and crevices of this country. It’s about the human spirit, and the desire to do good unto others. But most importantly, it’s about Mother Earth, the time we spend here, the things we plant, the mark we leave and the power she has over all of us.”—Hippocampus Magazine


The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife's Memoir

Heather is pale and thin, seventeen and pregnant with twins when Patricia Harman begins to care for her. Over the course of the next five seasons Patsy will see Heather through the loss of both babies and their father. She will also care for her longtime patient Nila, pregnant for the eighth time and trying to make a new life without her abusive husband. And Patsy will try to find some comfort to offer Holly, whose teenage daughter struggles with bulimia. She will help Rebba learn to find pleasure in her body and help Kaz transition into a new body. She will do noisy battle with the IRS in the very few moments she has to spare, and wage her own private battle with uterine cancer.


Patricia Harman, a nurse-midwife, manages a women's health clinic with her husband, Tom, an ob-gyn, in West Virginia-a practice where patients open their hearts, where they find care and sometimes refuge. Patsy's memoir juxtaposes the tales of these women with her own story of keeping a small medical practice solvent and coping with personal challenges. Her patients range from Appalachian mothers who haven't had the opportunity to attend secondary school to Ph.D.'s on cell phones. They come to Patsy's small, windowless exam room and sit covered only by blue cotton gowns, and their infinitely varied stories are in equal parts heartbreaking and uplifting. The nurse-midwife tells of their lives over the course of a year and a quarter, a time when her outwardly successful practice is in deep financial trouble, when she is coping with malpractice threats, confronting her own serious medical problems, and fearing that her thirty-year marriage may be on the verge of collapse. In the words of Jacqueline Mitchard, this memoir, "utterly true and lyrical as any novel . . . should be a little classic."


“This luminescent, ruthlessly authentic, humane, and brilliantly written account of a midwife in rough-hewn Appalachia, a passionate healer plying her art and struggling to live a life of spirit, stands as a model for all of us, doctors and patients alike, of how to offer good care.”—Samuel Shem, MD, author of The House of God, Mount Misery, and The Spirit of the Place

“Harman has a gift for storytelling, and The Blue Cotton Gown is a moving, percipient book.”—Karen R. Long, Cleveland Plain Dealer

“As the mother of seven children and veteran of eight pregnancy losses, I knew when I ran my bath that I would be unable to resist Patricia Harman’s memoir of midwifery, The Blue Cotton Gown.What I didn’t realize was that it would cause me, a sensible person, to get into her bath with one sock still on and rise from it when the candle was gone and the water cold. Utterly true and lyrical as any novel, Harman’s book should be a little classic.”—Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean and Cage of Stars