Review: The Midwife's Tale by Sam Thomas
Author: Sam Thomas
Publisher: Minotaur Books 8 January 2013
Labels: Historical Fiction, 17th Century, England, Midwifery, Historical Fiction Virtual Tours, Mystery, Detective
Format: Advanced Reader Copy/Paperback
Rating: 5 Stars
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Bridget Hodgson is a 30 year old widow that lives in a middle class home with her servants in York, England. The year is 1644 and England is under a civil war. The war began with a Catholic English King trying to end strife amongst Catholic's and Protestant's in Ireland, the war spilled over into England. Rumors circulated that the Catholic King wanted England to become a Catholic nation again, removing Protestantism by force from its people. The King and Parliament were at odds with each other. The war became a closer reality when a garrison was built outside the city. Then Scotland entered the war. Food is scarce. The people are anxious. Many innocent people have died. But, a war has not stopped babies from being created and born. Bridget is a midwife, she is well-known in the city as a midwife of experience and integrity. One of her duties is to find father's who impregnated women and were not married to them. This duty requires tenacity, quick sharp words, a steely gaze, backbone. Often Bridget must travel to a home in the middle of the night to await and then deliver a baby. The gossips of the Parish congregate in the home to spread gossip, or even slander another persons reputation.
A close friend of Bridget's has been charged and imprisoned for the murder of her husband. Bridget believes her to be innocent and works to solve the mystery of who the actual murderer was and why.
Positive Points: I loved this story!
- Early in the story the author explained in understandable terms the Civil War of England during the 1600's. The history lesson is brief, but was needed.
- Bridget's character is stoic, firm, resilient, brave, steadfast. She is a person of her word. She is a person of principle. Her character is definable in her positive reputation in York. She is an admirable person. Yet, we see that both she and her life are imperfect, and this makes her relatable. Bridget has lived a life of regret, pain, suffering, and loneliness; but she has not let those painful struggles change her for the worse, she perseveres on---doing her best.
- I found it interesting that this story was loosely based on a real Bridget Hodgson.
- I loved learning about midwifery during this time period.
- Gossip and slander and pompous judgmental attitudes are in several of the background characters. It angered me at how the church has misused and abused people. Notice I typed church, not God. Why is this a positive point? I feel that we and I need a reminder of how our attitudes, words, and actions injure people.
Thank you to Historical Fiction Virtual Tours, Minotaur Books, and Sam Thomas for my free review copy in exchange for an honest review.
Sam Thomas Books
Sam Thomas is an assistant professor of history at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He has received research grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Newberry Library, and the British Academy. He has published articles on topics ranging from early modern Britain to colonial Africa. Thomas lives in Alabama with his wife and two children.
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