Monday, January 7, 2013

Historical Fiction Book Tours Book Review: The Midwife's Tale


Author: Sam Thomas
Title: The Midwife's Tale
Publication Date:  January 8, 2013 | Minotaur Books | 320p
Review Copy Provided By: Historical Fiction Book Tours & the publisher

SYNOPSIS:  In the tradition of Arianna Franklin and C. J. Sansom comes Samuel Thomas’s remarkable debut, The Midwife’s Tale.

It is 1644, and Parliament’s armies have risen against the King and laid siege to the city of York. Even as the city suffers at the rebels’ hands, midwife Bridget Hodgson becomes embroiled in a different sort of rebellion. One of Bridget’s friends, Esther Cooper, has been convicted of murdering her husband and sentenced to be burnt alive. Convinced that her friend is innocent, Bridget sets out to find the real killer.

Bridget joins forces with Martha Hawkins, a servant who’s far more skilled with a knife than any respectable woman ought to be. To save Esther from the stake, they must dodge rebel artillery, confront a murderous figure from Martha’s past, and capture a brutal killer who will stop at nothing to cover his tracks. The investigation takes Bridget and Martha from the homes of the city’s most powerful families to the alleyways of its poorest neighborhoods. As they delve into the life of Esther’s murdered husband, they discover that his ostentatious Puritanism hid a deeply sinister secret life, and that far too often tyranny and treason go hand in hand.

Review: I wish this hadn't been one of the first books I'd read in the new year. 

No wait, not because it is so bad, but because it is so good.

It has all the elements of a great historical novel, fantastic characters that are set in a wonderful backdrop of history, oh and the most important element, the ability to make the reader want to learn more about something in the novel, in this case the practice of the midwife.

There was so much about this job that I learned about through this book. You might think that being a midwife is only about delivering children, but there is so much more to it, and that plays a huge part in the mystery of this story.

Of course there's the civil war that's going on in England, and that also helps the action of the story move along.

I don't want to give anything away, but I will tell you, that once you start reading this book, you won't want to put it down. There's more than one murder involved in this book, but the main one is the death of Stephen Cooper.

I absolutely loved Bridget. Her way of thinking might seem a little modern for her time, but she was spunky and smart and knew her own mind. Her servant Martha is another wonderful character, because she's just so different. Both women were strong and unlike the women in cozy mysteries, neither did anything that you'd consider silly, in order to find the killer.

This is definitely a book not to be missed!

Rating: 5 Flowers



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.


Mystica said...

Because I like historical fiction.

Eliza said...

I've been getting into historical fiction lately. This looks interesting :)

Sam Thomas said...

Hi Chick,

Thanks for the review, and I'm sorry for being so late to the table!

I tried to walk the fine line between "too modern" and "unrelatable" as best I could. There is nothing worse than a protagonist who seems to have parachuted in from the 21st century!

She seems strong, but so too did the historical midwife on which I based her. (Details on her life are on my website.)

Thanks again!

Amber at The Musings of ALMYBNENR said...

I definitely agree with your review, Andrea - especially your first sentence about reading it early and how it has kind of set the bar for the rest of the books of the year. :)

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