A girl of twelve or thirteen years begins The Midwife's Apprentice without mother, name, or home. She is a stranger to soft words who has known only curses, kicks, and blows. One would need to read widely to find a heroine on the verge of womanhood with a less promising future, yet by the end of the novel she has moved far beyond the desperate struggle just to survive and become a person who knows ". . how to try and risk and fail and try again and not give up." She has put herself in position to learn everything about being a midwife—physical techniques, herbs, potions,...
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