It is very difficult to match this stellar novel exactly–there are so many possibilities that may appeal to the reader. Is it the sisterhood of women? The healing and midwifery aspect? The goddess religion? The biblical characters? This list suggests a few books from each category.

Bohjalian, Christopher.
Midwives (1997).

Dinah’s profession has continued into our own time, and this best-selling novel examines a whole new set of pitfalls that reveal themselves. The life and death of mother and child are the midwife’s focus, but society has a much broader and quirkier view.

Courter, Gay.
The Midwife (1981) and The Midwife’s Advice (1992).

Hannah Blair trains to be a midwife at Moscow’s Imperial College in czarist Russia. Through her career, she becomes involved with noblewomen and the poor as she delivers their babies and listens to their troubles. She and her husband, Lazar, flee the Russian pogroms against Jews and go to New York. In New York, Hannah becomes a pioneering sex therapist fighting for women’s rights and the legalization of birth control.

Figes, Eva.
The Seven Ages (1986).

Seven women whose lives span the period from the Middle Ages to the present in closely linked stories which are unified by the persona of the contemporary midwife who represents them. Historical background, folk traditions, women’s history, and a story of childbirth and midwifery practices are skillfully interwoven.

Gibbons, Kaye.
Charms for the Easy Life (1993).

Charlie Kate travels around the country with her herb bag as a midwife and healer, delivering her own daughter Sophia, but in 1904, her marriage ends, and she and Sophia live alone until her daughter gives birth to Margaret, the narrator.

Lawrence, Margaret.
Hearts and Bones (1996).

First in a trilogy of mysteries beginning in 1786, Hannah Trevor, a midwife and healer in Rufford, Maine, becomes the female witness to ensure that a murdered woman’s body is treated properly, and she begins investigating the death since one of the men accused is the father of her deaf child. Followed by Blood Red Roses (1997) and Burning Bride (1998).

Nattel, Lillian.
The River Midnight (1999).

As the tiny town of Blaszka in Russian-occupied Poland readies for the Sabbath.
Nattel draws us into the circle of her story starting with the women and ending with the main character, the midwife Misha.

Riley, Judith Merkle.
A Vision of Light (1989) and In Pursuit of the Green Lion (1990)

In the 14th century, spunky Margaret of Ashbury relates her life story to Brother Gregory. Margaret’s story begins at 14 when she is married to a brutal merchant. When he leaves her for dead during a plague epidemic, Margaret survives and becomes an apprentice to herbalist and midwife Mother Hilde.

See, Lisa
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (2005)

A story of friendship set in nineteenth-century China follows an elderly woman and her companion as they communicate their hopes, dreams, joys, and tragedies through a unique secret language. (Suggested by Fern Moon)

Wells, Rebecca.
The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (1996).

Before it was a popular movie, it was a great book…When Siddi inadvertently reveals some revealing things about her Southern childhood in a newspaper interview, her mother, Vivi, virtually disowns her. Vivi’s lifelong friends, the Ya-Ya’s, set in motion a plan to bring the mother and daughter back together using a scrapbook of childhood memories that they ask Vivi to put together.

Bradley, Marion Zimmer.
The Forest House (1994) and The Mists of Avalon (1982), and
Lady of Avalon (1997).

A massive, exquisitely crafted recreation of the Arthurian legend as seen through the eyes of Morgaine and Viviane, King Arthur’s sister and aunt, respectively, and Arthur’s wife, Guinevere. Druidism at its best.

Waldo, Anna Lee.
Circle of Stones (1999).

The Zenas, healers in a religion of goddesses, carry their beliefs to southern France over one million years ago, and continue to practice them in subsequent centuries.

Banks, Lynne Reid.

Buechner, Frederick.
Son of Laughter (1993).

Another extrapolation from Genesis, this novel takes the Bible’s larger-than-life Jacob and fleshes out a much more human life for him.

Caldwell, Taylor.
Dear and Glorious Physician (1959).

Luke, author of one of the gospels, was a physician who lived in Antioch, Rome, Alexandria, and Judaea. One of this prolific author’s best.

Card, Orson Scott.
Sarah: Women of Genesis (2000).

One of Card’s historical series, this one focuses on Abraham’s wife Sarah, the biblical matriarch. Also wrote Stone Tables (1998) about Moses.

Chamberlin, Ann.
Tamar (1994).

Tamar, David’s stepdaughter, is princess of Judah and high priestess of the goddess whom she supports, rather than of the patriarch of Judah.

Coelho, Paulo.
The Fifth Mountain (1998).

The popular Brazilian author expounds on the prophet Elijah’s time of exile with a widow in the Phoenician city of Zarephath.

Crace, Jim.
Quarantine (1997).

Embroidering a skimpy Biblical narrative, Crace’s novel looks at the forty days Christ spent fasting in the wilderness. A talented writer lets his imagination loose.

Douglas, Lloyd C.
The Robe (1942) and The Big Fisherman (1948).
The influence of early Christianity is explored through the stories of two men whose lives were touched by Jesus Christ. In The Big Fisherman, Marcellus, a young Roman soldier who wins Christ’s robe shooting dice, is subsequently converted to Christianity. The life of Simon Peter in The Robe, chosen by Christ to lead His disciples, offers another view of the beginning of the Christian religion.

Fredriksson, Marianne.
According to Mary Magdalene (1999).

The author of Hanna’s Daughters breathes new life into the figure of Mary Magdalene in this triumphal novel of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the woman who loved him most.

Israel, Charles E.
Rizpah (1961).

This novel of Israel’s King Saul’s concubine moves along nicely.

Kazantzakis, Nikos.
The Last Temptation of Christ (1960).

In this controversial novel made into a film, Jesus lives and works in Nazareth where, as any man might, he asserts his beliefs.

Kohn, Rebecca.
The Gilded Chamber: A Novel of Queen Esther (2004).

A retelling of the life of the Jewish heroine follows the future queen from her youth as an orphan, her selection as the wife of a powerful Persian king, and the sacrifices she makes in order to save her people from annihilation.

Mann, Thomas.
Joseph and His Brothers (1948).

The Nobel Prize-winning German author gives still another account of Jacob’s family. Mann’s book has very obviously been produced in a world that has just seen the Holocaust.

Provoost, Anne.
In the Shadow of the Ark (2004).

Offers a look at the circumstances and events surrounding the building of Noah’s ark and the great flood, focusing on the relationship between Re Jana, an adolescent woman not chosen to be on the ark, and Noah’s son Ham during their final days together.

Rivers, Francine.
Unveiled (2000),
Unashamed (2000),
Unshaken (2001),
Unspoken (2001), and
Unafraid (2001).

A five-book series entitled, Lineage of Grace, about Biblical women. Unveiled is about Tamar, the wife of Er, Judah’s firstborn. Unashamed is about Rahab, the prostitute who helped Joshua. Unshaken features the story of Ruth, Unspoken chronicles the story of Bathsheba and David, and Unafraid profiles Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Anderson, Sherry R. & Patricia Hopkins.
The Feminine Face of God (1991).

Stone, Merlin.
When God Was a Woman (1976).