The Midwife's Advice

Gay Courter, Author Dutton Books $23 (608p) ISBN 978-0-525-93494-3
First met in Courter's bestselling novel The Midwife , Hannah Sokolow returns in a compelling sequel set during the years 1913-1922. Now head midwife at Bellevue Hospital, Hannah finds herself dispensing sexual advice to her impoverished patients, becoming, as it were, a forerunner of Dr. Ruth Westheimer. Hannah's acquires a reputation as a miracle worker after she counsels an Italian-American mother of five girls on how to conceive a male child. (Having noticed the preponderance of boys among orthodox Jewish families, she suggests that her patient follow Talmudic directions on sexual matters.) Although she studies the works of Freud, Kraft-Ebbing and Havelock Ellis, Hannah uses mainly intuition and common sense to counsel her embarrassed clients about all aspects of female--and male--sexuality. Her own domestic life unravels when husband Lazar returns to Russia as Trotsky's aide, leaving her to enjoy a steamy affair with Bellevue's head of obstetrics. Courter links her rambling story to the events of the era, as Hannah forms an uneasy alliance with a parade of feminists and revolutionaries. A surfeit of vacuous characters and gratuitous cameo appearances by such historical figures as Walter Lippmann and Emma Goldman impede the narrative flow somewhat, but Hannah's achievements (and perhaps Courter's explicit descriptions of human anatomy and sexual functions) will keep readers absorbed. 50,000 first printing; $50,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild alternate. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/28/1992
Release date: 10/01/1992
Mass Market Paperbound - 48 pages - 978-0-451-17692-9
Paperback - 978-0-451-97824-0
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