It has been a long time since I have read a truly absorbing yet compelling story about family secrets and the toll they take on the one who holds them.

In The Secrets of Midwives, author Sally Hepworth explores the midwife profession and the lives of three very different women: Neva, Grace and Floss.

Each woman is strong, loving and intelligent. Yet each of them keeps a secret in the hopes of controlling their present situation.

Hepworth beautifully reveals the inner turmoil Floss faces when Neva reluctantly discloses she is pregnant. Images from the past keep her awake at night while her partner, Lil, patiently waits on the sidelines for Floss to reveal what is bothering her.

St. Martin's Press

Lil’s steady, unassuming, thoughtful and kind presence adds a subtle nuance that grounds Hepworth’s novel. Lil helps others see a situation from a different perspective, yet doesn’t meddle. Her insight and neutral stance thereby keeps open communication between the characters.

One thought resounds throughout this novel: Secrets are eventually told. “Sometimes people keep them for so long. they forget the reason they’re even doing them. Or the reason changes or becomes distorted.” (210)

The only question remains: “Are you willing to admit the truth and find peace or are you too afraid?” To find the answer, read Hepworth’s touching novel, The Secrets of Midwives.

THE SECRETS OF MIDWIVES
By Sally Hepworth
308 pps. St. Martin’s Press. $25.99.