BOOK REVIEW: The Midwife of St. Petersburg
Book Review of: The Midwife of St. Petersburg by Linda Lee Chaikin
Genre: Historical Fiction
Karena Peshkev wants to be a midwife and attend the medical school in St. Petersburg, like her mother always dreamed of doing. As the daughter of a farmer though, she can feel that dream slipping farther away with every year that passes. Already considered an old maid, she despairs of ever scraping together the money for tuition, even as her father urges her to consider an arranged marriage. When Karena travels to visit her wealthy cousin in St. Petersburg, she hopes to make some connections that might open the door to medical school for her, but she doesn’t count on meeting Colonel Alexandr Kronstadt. They forge an instant, though tremulous connection but are unable to pursue it. As the Bolshevik rebellion gains momentum, Karena finds herself caught in the crosshairs and wanted by the police for a murder she didn’t commit. Alex is able to protect her from a distance, but she will have to make the choice for her own safety even if it means leaving St. Petersburg forever.
The most important thing you need to know about this book is that even though it is called ‘The Midwife of St. Petersburg’ there is an absolute minimum amount of midwifing involved. It’s more about how Karena wants to be a midwife, rather than actually involving her medical training and career. Though you perhaps, might not be disappointed by the book if you go into it with muted expectations of the midwifery aspects, I had a really hard time getting over the fact that the title had very little to do with what went on in the book.
It’s not that it wasn’t a good story. Certain aspects of the story were good, and I think as a light historical fiction romance it was above the masses so far as quality goes. I just kept expecting the midwifing to play an actual role in the story and it never did. It was much more about the romance between Karena and Alex, and about the beginning of the Bolshevik rebellion.
So, if the fact that the title and the story don’t have that much in common doesn’t dissuade you, then you’ll probably get to the end of the book and we can do a collective head-smack and have a wonderful little “Holy crap, what just happened? Did the publisher forget the last chapter?” moment together. I really don’t know what was going on with the ending. It felt like the story was taking too long, and the editor or the author was crunched for time so they just went with the first random conclusion that presented itself.
This book was really a bit of a disappointment. It had been in my to-read list on goodreads forever, so to finally read it and be completely underwhelmed was a little annoying. Nonetheless, if you’re a big fan of the slightly romance-y historical fiction types, go ahead and give it a try. It’s a fairly quick read, so you can be sure and let me know what you think of it 😉
It was okay: 3 out of 5 stars.