A few months ago, I read The Birth House by Ami McKay. I’d heard about this book for years, but it took some time to make its way into my “to-read” pile. Once I picked it up, there was no putting it down!
For those of you who haven’t read The Birth House, here’s the synopsis from Vintage Canada, the publisher:
“The Birth House is the story of Dora Rare, the first daughter to be born in five generations of Rares. As a child in an isolated village in Nova Scotia, she is drawn to Miss Babineau, an outspoken Acadian midwife with a gift for healing. Dora becomes Miss B.’s apprentice, and together they help the women of Scots Bay through infertility, difficult labours, breech births, unwanted pregnancies and even unfulfilling sex lives. Filled with details as compelling as they are surprising, The Birth House is an unforgettable tale of the struggles women have faced to have control of their own bodies and to keep the best parts of tradition alive in the world of modern medicine.”
I’m not sure what it was about The Birth House that stuck with me. It might have been the narrator, Dora Rare, an unforgettable, loveable character. It might have been the desolate, haunting east coast setting. And it might have been the focus on women and early midwifery, a topic I’ve been interested in since I read The Red Tent several years ago. Perhaps (and most likely) it was a combination of all of these things that conspired to have such a profound effect on me; When I finished the book, I thought, “I’d like to be able to write a book like that.”
Now I’m not saying that I want to write a book exactly like The Birth House (Ami McKay did a pretty darn good job the first time!), but I’d like to be able to write a book that makes people feel the way I felt when reading The Birth House: totally involved, whisked away from the real world, immersed in another person’s life.
After I finished The Birth House and fit it carefully onto my “Books I Love and Someday Want to Read Again” shelf, I decided that I was going to write a novel. To me that’s one of the most powerful things a book can do: inspire another to write.
Have you ever read a book that affected you so much it inspired you to write your own, or to become a better writer? Which books have inspired you to write?