Bland characters and droopy dialogue notwithstanding, this long, non-cumulative book displays considerable knowledge about midwifery and obstetrics in turn-of-the-century Russia and America--so medically-inclined readers may want to take a bedside seat as Jewish Hannah Blau plies her vocation from 1904 to 1908. Among the birthing scenes: the august Imperial College of Medicine and Midwifery in Moscow, where Hannah is the only Jewish woman admitted in five years; a small village of Odessa before and after a terrible pogrom, where Hannah delivers a live baby after the death of the mother; and at sea, in the cabin of a well-to-do American Jewish couple. (The husband, Nathanial Belinsky, will later, in New York, get Hannah's efficient manual help in curing his impotence.) Once in America, however, Hannah has her problems. Marriage to firebrand socialist husband Lazar has its ups and downs. One of Hannah's own two babies is quite possibly the offspring of Moscow doctor Petrograv--whom she couldn't marry. And, though a whiz with women who can't conceive or have had miscarriages, Hannah loses her precious midwife's license because she is falsely blamed for the death of a patient--the victim of a botched job by another, slovenly midwife. But finally Hannah is once again thinking of training to be a doctor; and she will carry on. A full week's worth of Labor Days--wretchedly written but, with the immigrant milieu and the ever-popular birthing melodrama, sure to win some of the Belva Plain readership.