Lovie: The Story of a Southern Midwife and an Unlikely Friendship

Lovie: The Story of a Southern Midwife and an Unlikely Friendship

by Lisa Yarger


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From 1950 to 2001, Lovie Beard Shelton practiced midwifery in eastern North Carolina homes, delivering some 4,000 babies to black, white, Mennonite, and hippie women; to those too poor to afford a hospital birth; and to a few rich enough to have any kind of delivery they pleased. Her life, which was about giving life, was conspicuously marked by loss, including the untimely death of her husband and the murder of her son.

Lovie is a provocative chronicle of Shelton's life and work, which spanned enormous changes in midwifery and in the ways women give birth. In this artful exploration of documentary fieldwork, Lisa Yarger confronts the choices involved in producing an authentic portrait of a woman who is at once loner and self-styled folk hero. Fully embracing the difficulties of telling a true story, Yarger is able to get at the story of telling the story. As Lovie describes her calling, we meet a woman who sees herself working in partnership with God and who must wrestle with the question of what happens when a woman who has devoted her life to service, to doing God's work, ages out of usefulness. When I'm no longer a midwife, who am I? Facing retirement and a host of health issues, Lovie attempts to fit together the jagged pieces of her life as she prepares for one final home birth.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781469630052
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 12/01/2016
Series: Documentary Arts and Culture, Published in association with the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 1,177,621
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Lisa Yarger is co-founder and co-owner of the Munich Readery.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

A compelling read, this page-turner is a lovely and instructive account of midwifery and the complex relationships that develop during documentary fieldwork. Lovie is beautifully written, largely because Lisa Yarger is an extraordinary observer who has a keen eye for details, the discipline to record what she sees, and the talent to turn her observations into well-crafted narrative nonfiction.—Lu Ann Jones, author of Mama Learned Us to Work: Farm Women in the New South

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