New Walk is the debut novel from Ellie Durant, writer of the popular blog Midwife Diaries and author of Becoming a Student Midwife: The Survival Guide for Passionate Applicants. I was lucky enough to be sent a pre-release copy to read and review by publishers Pinter & Martin.
Chloe Cawthorne is carrying the weight of her mother’s death and her father’s addiction. Amongst so much uncertainty, there’s one thing she’s sure of: she willbecome a midwife. Can she juggle the demands of such a challenging career path with her own journey into adulthood?
Spanning eighteen months, New Walk charts Chloe’s journey through her application and first year of training, with its inevitable highs and lows. Her love of midwifery brings an unbridled sense of ambition and a distraction from her tumultuous personal life. Whilst she is learning about pregnancy and birth, her father is struggling to cope with his grief at losing his wife, her sister is unreliable, often absent, and her best friend is trying to show her in-laws that she is worthy of their son’s love. Relief comes in the form of her fellow trainee midwives and the experienced women she is learning from, with one exception: the midwife responsible for signing her off at the end of her first year.
Durant has skillfully tackled all manner of cases in this novel, from the hypnobirthing mother who refuses intervention during labour, choosing to listen to – and trust in – her body, to the drug-addicted mother whose baby must withdraw from the drugs upon which it is born dependent. The subject of termination is approached directly. It is neither sugar-coated or denigrated, but is discussed in detail, both medically and psychologically, thus breaking down the taboos which continue to surround the topic.
Chloe is, by turns, wise and naive. The events of her life to date have given her a wisdom and experience beyond her age, yet she is blinkered to much of the world around her and struggles with what she sees as the apparent impassivity of other medical professionals, and the officious nature of her mentor. It is these intricacies which speak volumes about the NHS, and the tough job of those employed within – humans faced with life-changing decisions at every turn, and often worn down by the confines of the litigation and bureaucracy by which they are bound.
A sensitive novel, and a testament to Durant’s own passion for her field, and her wealth of experience within it. A must read for midwives new and experienced, as well as women’s rights advocates and anyone with a passion for all things pregnancy, birth and baby.
Publishing on 18th October. Available for pre-order from Pinter & Martin.
Jo, The Mother Side x
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