Monday, April 15, 2013

Book Review: "I Knew A Woman"

I Knew a Woman: Four Women Patients and Their Female CaregiverI Knew a Woman: Four Women Patients and Their Female Caregiver by Cortney Davis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"I Knew A Woman" is one of the best books I've read in a long time. I always enjoy reading books on medical subjects, but this one was special. The subtitle at Goodreads is "Four Women Patients and Their Female Caregiver", but on my copy it's "The Experience Of The Female Body." In any event, the book is written by a nurse practitioner at a women's clinic, who also happens to be a poet with two volumes of poetry to her credit. The result is beautiful writing about women; as patients, as caregivers, as mothers and as human beings.

The four patients in this book are composites, so therefore no issues of confidentiality came into play. Still, Davis draws them so richly, that they each seem vibrantly particular, and real. There is Lila, a fifteen year old street urchin, pregnant by her older, tough-guy boyfriend. There is Renee, a heroin addict who has lost her previous three babies to the state, and whose heroin-addicted newborn fights for life even as his mother fights to put her life back together so that she can bring him home. Next, there is Joanna, who complains of vaginal pain whenever she has sex with her boyfriend. When no physical cause can be found, it begins to seem as if an emotional cause might be hiding in Joanna's past. And finally, we meet Eleanor, a middle aged woman with cervical cancer, who has to undergo a hysterectomy.

Cortney Davis approaches her work and her patients with a poet's eye, a compassionate heart, and the skill and expertise of an artisan. The way she describes the physical workings of a woman's body, and the things that can go terribly wrong or marvelously right, is illuminating and immediate. She doesn't stop there, though; her patients are always whole women, with their own minds, fears, demons and, very often, great courage.

I loved this book, and recommend it highly.

View all my reviews


Cloudia said...

It is always a healing experience to witness humanity in action, particularly when focused on women or other typically oppressed beings.

ALOHA from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral
~ > < } } ( ° > <3

Sioux said...

Shay--I think the last book you reviewed you liked until you got to the last part of the book, and then it fell apart.

Five out of five? Wow. It sounds like a great read.

Helen said...

... I'll add this to my 'want to read' list! Do you watch 'Call The Midwife' on PBS? If not, I think you would really enjoy it!

hedgewitch said...

As always, you read books I would never look at twice, and make them sound fascinating. This one sounds like it would be painful, but worth it.

Grandmother said...

As a retired nurse this sounds like a book right up my alley. Thanks.

Mama Zen said...

You had already made me want to read this!