The Blue Cotton Gown

  • by Patricia Harman
  • Narrated by Abby Craden
  • 9 hrs and 1 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Heather is pale and thin, seventeen and pregnant with twins when Patricia Harman begins to care for her. Over the course of the next five seasons Patsy will see Heather through the loss of both babies and their father. She will also care for her longtime patient Nila, pregnant for the eighth time and trying to make a new life without her abusive husband. And Patsy will try to find some comfort to offer Holly, whose teenage daughter struggles with bulimia. She will help Rebba learn to find pleasure in her body and help Kaz transition into a new body. She will do noisy battle with the IRS in the very few moments she has to spare, and wage her own private battle with uterine cancer.
Patricia Harman, a nurse-midwife, manages a women's health clinic with her husband, Tom, an ob-gyn, in West Virginia-a practice where patients open their hearts, where they find care and sometimes refuge. Patsy's memoir juxtaposes the tales of these women with her own story of keeping a small medical practice solvent and coping with personal challenges. Her patients range from Appalachian mothers who haven't had the opportunity to attend secondary school to Ph.D.'s on cell phones. They come to Patsy's small, windowless exam room and sit covered only by blue cotton gowns, and their infinitely varied stories are in equal parts heartbreaking and uplifting. The nurse-midwife tells of their lives over the course of a year and a quarter, a time when her outwardly successful practice is in deep financial trouble, when she is coping with malpractice threats, confronting her own serious medical problems, and fearing that her thirty-year marriage may be on the verge of collapse. In the words of Jacqueline Mitchard, this memoir, "utterly true and lyrical as any novel...should be a little classic."


Audible Editor Reviews

Patricia Harman likens her examination room to a confessional early on in her intimate, deeply personal memoir based on her experiences operating a women's health clinic in West Virginia, which served as a refuge for women of myriad ages and backgrounds dealing with medical, psychological, and familial issues.
This striking mosaic of stories is delivered with an urgency, compassion, and integrity by Abby Craden, who captures the gamut of emotions both Harman and these fascinating women courageously display.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Hope, Heartbreak, Compassion

As a midwife in a small rural practice that she runs with her husband, Patricia Harman acts as social worker, doctor, therapist, and mother.

The women’s stories she encounters in the confessional-like exam room illuminate the lives of the non-glamorous, average women so rarely heard in TV and news stories.

Harman looks into the experience of womanhood, of motherhood in a more intimate and respectful, and compassionate way than someone in almost any other occupation could, and she brings the listener there with her.

Abby Craden brings the confidential voice of the book to life, like she’s whispering in your ear.
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- Susie "I'm Audible's first Editor-at-Large, the host of In Bed with Susie Bright -- and a longtime author, editor, journo, and bookworm. I listen to audio when I'm cooking, playing cards, knitting, going to bed, waking up, driving, and putting other people's kids to bed! My favorite audiobooks, ever, are: "True Grit" and "The Dog of the South.""

Timeless, introspective, enlightening

Where does The Blue Cotton Gown rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Fairly high. I have read some very very good books, and this is a good addition to my library. It is at turns a tale of a medical practice, a marriage, a woman... and more.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Patsy because it is her story; Nilla for her fierce devotion to her children.

Which character – as performed by Abby Craden – was your favorite?

Nilla, Heather. Though their stories are different, Abby Craydon did an admirable job with tone and inflection with them.

If you could give The Blue Cotton Gown a new subtitle, what would it be?

Life and death befor elife and other tales

Any additional comments?

This is a good book related to a seldom explored aspect of medical practice. The points of view change from present and past tense, which is a bit confusing, and the book is unnecessarily sexually graphic in unexpected places, which is the reason I cannot give it five stars. The narration was incredible, and I will check out this narrator and author again (Patricia Harmon also write "The Midwife of Hope River).

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- Daryl

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-03-2013
  • Publisher: Audible Studios