by John Bart

May 7, 2016
5.5 x 8 paperback, french flaps, 192 pages
CDN $21.95 | US $21.95

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Shortlisted for the 2017 Kobo Emerging Writers Prize

Middenrammers is a brave and provocative novel about one doctor’s battle for social justice in Sweport, a small fishing town in England.

It’s 1968.

In Paris and Berlin, student protests are resulting in a full-on workers’ revolt. Medical student Brian Davis is at the centre of it all. Meanwhile, in East Yorkshire, folk hero Lillian Bilocca is spearheading a revolution to ensure safer working conditions for fishermen. Sweport local Helena Woods (known to everyone as “Woodie”) is marching along beside her.

Two years later, Dr. Brian Davis arrives at Sweport Maternity Hospital as a young doctor, intending to leave his days of protest behind him. But then he meets Woodie, a midwife who has a fire in her belly, an insatiable desire for social justice, and a deep-rooted connection with her community.

Dr. Davis and Woodie are faced with hospital administrators who are doing everything in their power to prevent the staff from giving contraceptive advice or abortions. As a doctor and a midwife, the pair comes face-to-face with these destructive policies on a daily basis. In simply trying to do what is right for the patients and the town, they find themselves in the midst of a different kind of revolution.

“This straightforward and engaging book takes a clean, sharp scalpel to dissect a time that has sad parallels with our own. The love story that runs like a gleaming thread through this dark account is one of the most intelligent and satisfying I can remember.” — Marina Endicott

“This admirably direct and plain-spoken novel, free of metaphor, graphically describes the pain and blood and sorrow and joy of both pregnancy and the delivery room, pitting the ideals of a young doctor against the sanctimony of his superiors. A love story as well, Middenrammers awaits the arrival of the BBC, who surely should love it for a new series set in East Yorkshire, gulls wheeling over the fish plant, lovers in the alleys, cries in the night.”— Nicholas Ruddock


Reviews and Interviews

Review: The Winnipeg Review, July 11, 2016.

“[Bart] portrays the devastating impact of restricting women’s reproductive freedom, and shows too how such restrictions are part of systemic project of oppression of women and the poor… [I] think it would appeal to anyone who’s been a fan of Call The Midwife.” Pickle Me This, May 18, 2016.

“What sets Middenrammers apart are the characters, fully fleshed out no matter which side the divide they are on when it comes to a woman’s reproductive rights.” Calgary Herald, April 30, 2016.