E/view: Rosina, the Midwife

The true story of an Italian midwife bares the same twists and turns of an epic novel at times, told through the words of Edmonton author (and great-great-granddaughter) Jessica Kluthe.

BY PAULA E. KIRMAN

Jessica Kluthe's 'Rosina, the Midwife'
At first, I thought Rosina, the Midwife, was a novel. Upon further investigation, I realized it was a family history by Edmonton author Jessica Kluthe. However, with its drama, twists, turns, and revelations, this book has all of the creativity of a novel – except it’s a true story. 

Kluthe tells the story of her great-great-grandmother Rosina, the matriarch of her mother’s side of the family. She was the only member of the family to remain in Italy, as she watched other lived ones leave, one by one. Rosina was also a midwife, in an area where one doctor served three villages. 

Seamlessly moving back and forth between the history she presents and her contemporary life, Kluthe draws connections between how her past has shaped her, a past that she set out to discover through intense research leading to emotional discoveries. Through her own family story, Kluthe documents segments of Italian history in Edmonton as well as the mass emigration of Italians to places like Canada that took place between 1870 and 1970. 

Rosina, the Midwife is not a long book, but it covers a lot of ground. Kluthe’s writing style has a flow that is almost poetic at times. She demonstrates that knowing where (and who) you come from has an impact on who you are as a person. I came away from reading the book feeling that I knew more about Italian history and Kluthe herself. I can only imagine how life-changing working on this project was for the writer. 

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