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Friday, January 25, 2013

HFVBT Tour Stop & Review: The Midwife's Tale by Sam Taylor

From the tour homepage:

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.

First thoughts?

I am sitting here struggling to write this review.  I don't know why, since I enjoyed this book immensely.  So much so that I hope Lady Bridget and her sidekick Martha have another book that features them.  The door has certainly been left open.  The mystery itself was not terribly difficult.  I didn't figure it out, but it wasn't super complicated.  Goes with the time period I guess.  The historical features and the practice of midwifery are as equally important in this story as the murder was.

This story takes place in York in 1644 and I had forgotten how chaotic this time period was in England.    Religion is strong, Papists vs. Church of England.  Women have no rights and are property, unless you are fortunate to be a lady of means as is Lady Bridget.  Bridget has a fortune, no husband, stature in the community, friends in high places, and above all else, a kind soul.  She is only about 30 years old, but remember it's 1644.  That's a bit advanced.  Bridget is also a midwife, so most of her information gathering comes while delivering babies.  That is another society unto itself.  I didn't realize women and giving birth could be so socially complicated, with their gossips, and etiquette.  I don't want to give too much away, but it is super interesting to say the least.

Martha, who becomes Bridget's maid, is quite a character.  I liked her quite a bit.  She comes to Martha's door under odd circumstances, but Bridget gives her a chance.  Bridget and Martha become BFFs rather quickly, and some may quibble about that.  Me, I didn't mind because it made for a wonderful side story.  There was one piece of the side story, from Martha's past that I thought wrapped up too quickly, but it doesn't detract from the over all story.

There was a great blend of historical information with the mystery and I don't think we see that too often.  Sometimes HF mysteries have aspects that seem modern or overworked, and this one does not.  I appreciated learning about midwifery in 1644.


Absolutely!  Bridget and Martha make a fabulous baby delivering, mystery solving team.  Each brings skills to the table that allow for justice to be served, and they respect and trust each other.  They are certifiable BFFs by the end, and no one can say otherwise.

This was a page turner for me and all of the characters were enjoyable; even the few that wanted to do my Lady harm.

There better be a sequel in the works Mr. Thomas.

Would I change anything?

No not really.  Maybe make the story a little longer.

My Rating: 95/100
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Trade paperback, 320 pages
Book Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours (Thank you Amy!)

For more information please visit the author, Sam Thomas' website:

For more opinions of this page turner, please visit some of the site below:

Monday, January 7
Review & Giveaway at A Chick Who Reads
Review & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, January 8
Review at The Novel Life
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Wednesday, January 9
Review & Giveaway at Ageless Pages Reviews
Review & Author Interview at A Bookish Libraria

Thursday, January 10
Review at Raging Bibliomania

Friday, January 11
Review at The Musings of a Book Junkie

Monday, January 14
Review at A Bookish Affair

Tuesday, January 15
Review at Book Journey
Review & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick

Wednesday, January 16
Review & Giveaway at Book of Secrets

Thursday, January 17
Review & Giveaway at The Book Buff

Friday, January 18
Review at Sharon's Garden of Book Reviews

Monday, January 21
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Tuesday, January 22
Review at The Bookworm

Wednesday, January 23
Review & Giveaway at Words and Peace

Thursday, January 24
Review at Book Dilettante
Review at Confessions of an Avid Reader

Friday, January 25
Review at Jenny Loves to Read
Review at Impressions in Ink 

Monday, January 28
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Review & Giveaway at Stiletto Storytime

Tuesday, January 29
Feature & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, January 30
Review & Giveaway at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Thursday, January 31
Review at The Musings of ALMYBNENR

Friday, February 1
Review at Reading the Past

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