When my St. Martin’s editor, Jennifer Enderlin, suggested I write a book about a midwife, I thought oh, yuck. But Jen has unerring instincts, so I began researching 19th century midwifery in hopes I’d come up with an idea. That didn’t work. But one day I picked up The Tenmile Range, a collection of poetry by Belle Turnbull. Belle was a poet in Breckenridge. I met her when I went there as a bride in 1963. Belle was as fragile as a columbine, but her poetry was touch as ore. One of her poems was about a midwife, and reading it convinced me to set the story along the Tenmile Range in the late 19th century and write about an aging midwife with secrets, a woman dedicated to her calling but one who faced challenges that might cause her to give up her work.
The Last Midwife
BY SANDRA DALLAS
It is 1880, and Gracy Brookens is the only midwife in a small Colorado mining town, where she has delivered hundreds, maybe thousands, of babies in her lifetime. She is a gifted and important resource for the women of her hardscrabble community, a position earned through wisdom and trust. Most women in Swandyke couldn’t even imagine getting through their pregnancy labor without Gracy by their sides.
But everything changes when a baby is found dead…and the evidence points to Gracy as the killer.
Gracy knows she didn’t commit the crime. But her innocence isn’t quite that simple, either. She knows things, and that’s dangerous. Invited into her neighbors’ homes during their most intimate times, she can’t help what she sees or hears. A woman sometimes says things in the birthing bed, when life and death seem suspended within the same moment. Gracy has always tucked those revelations away, even the confessions that have cast shadows on her heart.
With her friends taking sides and a trial looming, Gracy must decide whether it’s worth risking everything to prove her innocence. And she knows that her years of discretion may simply demand too high a price now…especially since she’s been keeping more than a few dark secrets of her own.