I don’t know why I keep reading post-apocalyptic books, especially when it already feels like the beginnings of some kind of apocalypse are upon us. And especially since, as a cynical and angry feminist, I know what a world-ending event that led to lawlessness would mean to the experience of women. So really, I should have known that I would find a book that explores just that emotionally devastating. But it was worth the devastation and the read.
The Book of the Unnamed Midwife explores a world in which huge chunks of the population dies from a disease that took it’s toll on far more women than men, as it is directly related to pregnancy and childbirth. Alex, our main character, decides that if she’s going to live in a world like this, she’s going to do all she can to make things easier and less horrific for other women.
The book really did remind me of The Road, though of course the prose isn’t as lyrical or savage as McCarthy’s. However, the world is just as savage and grim. This isn’t an easy read by any measure, though it’s extremely compelling. I found I didn’t want to put it down, despite the fact that parts of it filled me with rage and a kind of helplessness. Both of those feelings because it seems clear to me that what’s described in those pages is very close to how things would turn out of most women in the world died.
I will mention one small weakness of the book, which is that Alex’s diary entries are written in a font that can be somewhat difficult to read, especially on a Kindle.