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.
©2012 Samuel Thomas (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
I quite enjoyed the story but the narration jarred in placed. There were places where the subject of the sentence was referred to by the wrong pronoun and lots of odd Americanisms- normalcy?! Even English words were mangled and I'm pretty sure the Marquis of Newcastle would be peeved to find out he was actually a large tent.
"Excellent First Novel!"
I didn't read the print version.
The person)s) who committed the murders was not even suspected until near the end. Kept me guessing.
The different voices of characters, their moods and feelings.
I had great sympathy with the two main women in the story.
Please make the next books by Sam Thomas available in audio as soon as they appear!
"Only so so"
The narrator of this book was so annoying I almost stopped listening. I'm not sure if my rating would have been higher if I had read the book. The main character's dialogue was so slow I wondered if there was an issue with the speed. But other characters were okay, at least from a speed standpoint. Most of the male characters who were or could be one of the bad guys sounded like old crones. When they were annoyed, they even sounded like the Wicked Witch of the West. The sitcom Italian reading of one character, with sing songy sentences and lots of words ending in "a," was laughable at times.
Bridget Hodgson, the Midwife in the title, is based on an actual person. I understand it is normal in a novel to take liberties with actual happenings in and around a character's life. I felt, however, one of the liberties the author took with Bridget's life was unacceptable. Throughout the book Bridget mourns the loss of her only two children. She doesn't mourn the death of her second husband and there were no surviving children from their brief marriage. According to the author's website, however, Bridget actually had six children with her second husband that survived to the point she named them in her will.
Regarding the story, I didn't like the Bridget. She was flat and uninteresting. Her obsession with forcing unmarried pregnant women to name the father of their bastard children became a problem for me. While I appreciate that Bridget Hodgson is portrayed as a woman of her times, I couldn't come to terms with her lack of compassion for the maid servants who had been raped or taken advantage of by their masters. When Bridget grabbed one young woman around the throat, demanded a name, and groped under her dress to see if she was pregnant, I lost any connection to her I had felt.
"Engaging historical fiction..."
The Midwife's Tale affords the the reader a wonderful opportunity to step back and see how our ancestors lived, negotiated their world, understood their politics. It allows us to see how they birthed their babies, and raised their families, and practiced their religion.
More importantly, it gives a glimpse into the early struggles for freedom from servitude and the class system, and let's us see the path that brought us to the present.
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