Tuesday, February 16, 2016

"The Things We Keep"

Sally Hepworth has lived and traveled around the world, spending extended periods in Singapore, the U.K., and Canada. While on maternity leave from her job in Human Resources, Hepworth finally fulfilled a lifelong dream to write, the result of which was Love Like the French, published in Germany in 2014. While pregnant with her second child, she wrote The Secrets of Midwives, published worldwide in English, as well as in France, Italy, Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 2015. A novel about three generations of midwives, The Secrets of Midwives asks readers what makes a mother and what role biology plays in the making and binding of a family.

The Secrets of Midwives has been labelled “enchanting” by The Herald Sun, “smart and engaging” by Publishers Weekly, and New York Times bestselling authors Liane Moriarty and Emily Giffin have praised Hepworth’s debut English language novel as “women’s fiction at its finest” and “totally absorbing.”

Hepworth applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, The Things We Keep, and reported the following:
From page 69:
I can’t bear to listen to it all again. While Richard did some terrible things, I still feel surprisingly uncomfortable hearing her slam him, particularly after she’d allowed Richard to move her and Dad over from England and set them up very nicely. I also feel uncomfortable since she spent a decade kissing his ass so wholeheartedly that even Richard felt awkward. (And Richard never felt awkward around adoring women.)

‘Thanks, Mother, but we’re fine. Really.’

‘You’re hardly fine, Evie. You’ve taken a job in a residential care facility! I must admit, I still don’t understand why. Even if you didn’t have the experience to become a head chef at a restaurant, surely you could ... I don’t know ... open a little catering business or something?’

I don’t bother to point out that in order to start any kind of business, I’d need money, something that was in desperately short supply right now. Instead I remind her that if we don’t want Clem to be moved to Butwell Elementary we need an address in the area. When I finish talking I notice Clem standing in the doorway of the bedroom, holding her tatty pink bunny by the ears.

‘Clem’s awake, Mother. I have to go.’

‘Hold on a minute,’ she says. ‘Your father wants to speak to you.’

There’s a shuffle, and then I hear Dad clear his throat. ‘Saw the paper. You hang in there, baby. People will realize that you were dealt a rough card, too. The only one who should be suffering is your low-down scumbag of a husband ...’

Clem climbs onto my lap, and I smile brightly. She watches me intently, her radar for knowing when people are talking about her father in perfect working order. ‘Don’t worry about me, Dad,’ I say brightly. ‘I’m fine.’
On first glance, I was going to say that this little snapshot isn’t a perfect representation of the book, but on closer examination, it’s actually not bad. In this scene, Eve remembers how much her parents adored her husband, but now, with the new information that Richard was a swindler, they have changed their tune. While this secondary plotline—about how Eve’s husband left her high and dry—isn’t at the core of the novel, it demonstrates how our memories can be changeable. And this, in essence, is what the whole book is about—the way memories change, and how we are better served by relying on our instincts and our feelings to steer our lives. All in all, a good little snapshot of the heart and soul of the book.
Visit Sally Hepworth's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: The Secrets of Midwives.

My Book, The Movie: The Secrets of Midwives.

--Marshal Zeringue