Tell us what you’re reading now!

For a little change of pace here at the SJCME Alumni Book Club, let’s talk about what you’re reading outside of book club!

Comment below about the book you’re reading now or one you recently finished. Check out what some of the Library staff are reading as well.

Feel free to discuss what others are reading or comment if you’ve also read some of the titles. Let everyone know what you like or dislike about what you’re reading now!

The Law


In The Midwife of Hope River Patience worries quite a bit about what the law says midwives can and cannot do. Through the first three decades of the 20th century in the U.S. the percentages of births attended by midwives decreased significantly.

Discussion Question: The laws regarding midwifery were put in place to protect the health of mothers and babies. At the same time, in the novel we see many instances where Patience needed to do more than was legally allowed in order to save an infant and she was never found out. Do you think we laws were too strict? Not strict enough?



The author Patricia Harman has lots of experience delivering babies. She began her career as a lay midwife and perused her passion by becoming a nurse-midwife and teacher.

Discussion Question: If you have experience with the subject, do you think the descriptions of births and birthing practices in The Midwife of Hope River ring true? Do you think she’s changed anything for the sake of the stories? Have things changed since the Depression era?

The Midwife of Hope River


The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman takes place around 1930 in West Virginia. The novel’s setting of Appalachia at the beginning of the Great Depression plays as big a part in the novel as any character. Harman’s protagonist Patience the Midwife is a keen observer of her surroundings. The novel is full of descriptions of people, places and the wild world, and Harman did extensive web research to try to keep the elements of the novel accurate.

Discussion Question: What are some of your favorite details? Which particulars of Harman’s scenery gave you the best sense of the setting?

Book Choice for January 2014


Welcome back! The next book for Alumni Book Club will be The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman. Patricia is an author, midwife and Saint Joseph’s College of Maine alumna! Join us in reading this novel about a midwife working in the “hardscrabble conditions of Appalachia during the Depression.”

midwife of hope river

Get your copy today from your local library, bookstore or Amazon! Discussion will begin here on the blog January 15th.

Tell us what you think!

Now it’s time for your ideas about Saint Joseph’s College alumni book club! We’d love to hear your feedback about what you liked and/or what else you’d like to see from the book club. Please feel free to answer below or email me directly at  I’d be happy to hear your thoughts whether you participated last month or not!

Here are some questions. Let us know if you have any input on some or all of them.

What book would you like to read next? Some choices:
A book by an alum like The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman?
A popular current best-seller like The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt or Sycamore Row by John Grisham? Let me know any titles you think would be good for book club!

How can we make the discussion more engaging?
Would you like to listen to audio or watch videos by the Librarian discussing the book?
What kinds of discussions would you like to have?

How can we get even more involvement?
Are there places we should be advertising the book club?
Do you know any fellow alums who you think would enjoy participating?
If we had an event on campus would you consider attending (if you happen to live in the area)?

Thanks a lot! Later this month we’ll pick the next book and start up discussions of it in January!

Kennedys wrap-up!


Thanks everyone for participating in the first-ever Saint Joseph’s College Alumni Book Club discussion! It’s been great to hear what everyone thought about Monica Wood’s When We Were The Kennedys. This will be the last post about that book.

Discussion Question: How did the book leave you feeling at the end? Sad, hopeful, nostalgic? Something else completely?

Keep your eyes peeled for a post in December about future book club activities and be thinking about what kind of book you might like to read next!


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