The Midwife: A Biography of Laurine Ekstrom Kingston By Victoria Burgess
Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books 2012
I don’t know if anyone else out there loves reading midwife memoirs but I do. I noticed this biography of Laurine Ekstrom Kingston on kindle and decided to give it a try. The book is broken up into six sections: the history of her family, her childhood within the Fundamentalist group, her marriage to the son of a prominent Fundamentalist leader, her philosophies of midwifery care, stories from her work as a midwife, and reflections on her life and what she is doing today.
I thought the book was going to be more about her work as a midwife but the majority of the book is about her time as a part of a Fundamentalist Mormon Co-op. Even though that is not what I was expecting, it was still very interesting. I have to admit to not having much of an idea of how daily life flows in tightly knit polygamist (more accurately defined as polygyny) groups. I have never bothered watching Big Love or any reality shows depicting the practice. So for me it was educational and handled tastefully. Polygyny is an undeniable part of our history and Laurine’s life gave me a peek inside to what it might have been like for early Mormons who practiced it. For Laurine, it allowed her to work more freely as a nurse and midwife. Many of the midwives from LDS history were part of plural marriages.
Laurine is a fascinating woman, one who was steeped in her religion, but often functioning outside of it due to her work as a nurse and midwife. The critique I would offer is that the book could have used a little more editing and revising. There are errors common to writing and sometimes the flow is choppy or the style distracting. However, that did not stop me from reading the entire book before my Labor Day weekend was over.