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The Midwife's Tale by Sam Thomas

The Midwife's Tale

by Sam Thomas

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4.5 Stars

Set in the Northern English city of York at the height of its siege by rebel forces during the Civil War, Sam Thomas' debut novel, The Midwife's Tale, is an intriguing mystery that engages the reader right from the outset. At the centre of this novel is Lady Bridget Hogdson, one of York's most trusted midwives. Although York is suffering under the siege, Bridget continues to go about her business delivering babies and comforting new mothers. When one of her friends is convicted of murdering her husband, Bridget, who believes her friend innocent, joins forces with her servant Martha in an effort to find the real killer. But Bridget's quest for the truth puts her into direct conflict with some of York's most powerful citizens, thus putting her own life in danger. Refusing to be intimidated, Bridget and Martha continue their investigation of the murder. Will they solve the mystery before it is too late?

Full of rich historical detail that vividly recreates life in 1644 York, The Midwife's Tale is a must read for fans of not only historical mysteries, but of historical fiction in general. Through Bridget the reader learns of the customs and rules associated with 17th century childbirth, which included the rule that midwives could not deliver babies unless the father was named, and the custom that childbirth was a social occasion, with pregnant women surrounding themselves with their 'gossips' during labour. The novel also showcases the reality of life in a town under siege, as well as highlights the political dynamics of a city where the sympathies of its inhabitants are divided between the rebel and monarchist camps. The mystery itself is enthralling, taking Bridget and Martha all across York as they pursue a number of different leads, and leaving the reader guessing at the final outcome right until the very end. Portrayed as intelligent, strong and independent, Bridget is an ideal heroine, as is the ever resourceful Martha. The supporting characters, whether they be heroes or villains, are also well-developed and intriguing.

Well-written, with fascinating characters, a narrative that creates a strong sense of both time and place, and a plot that keeps the reader turning the pages, The Midwife's Tale is a novel not to be missed.

Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. ( )
  Melissa_J | Jan 16, 2016 |
1466 York England, The town is under siege by rebel forces. While the city is governed by Royalist supporters, a woman is tried for the murder of her Parliamentarian husband. Only Lady Hodgson, a well-respected midwife, believes in her innocence and hunts for the true killer. Lady Hodgson and her resourceful servant Martha look after the townsfolk—both the poor and the privileged. It's nice look at midwifery of the period as well as a satisfying historical mystery. I will definitely be continuing with the more of the series. ( )
  bluebird_ | Jan 14, 2016 |
I have no clue who, or what, prompted me to buy this book. Certainly not my cuppa tea.

If you are at all interested in midwifery history, I'm sure this would be very interesting to you. Otherwise, I suggest you look for a different read. ( )
  kaulsu | Oct 24, 2013 |
The Midwife’s Tale by Sam Thomas is both rich in historical details and mystery. I love books that I can learn from besides enjoying a great story. Bridget Hodgson is a well-respected midwife and gentlewoman living in York in the time of the English civil war in the 1644.

Bridget’s friend, Esther Cooper is accused of poisoning her husband with ratsbane. Bridget thinks that Esther has to be innocent; she is too kind a woman to even think of murder. Bridget has little time to find out who the true murderer is as there was not a legal trial of elected officials. The penalty for treason against husbands is death by fire.

Also she has to be available to carefully deliver babies. She is joined by her new servant, Martha Hawkins. Bridget believes Martha’s story of her being a servant to a dear friend who has died and is amazed at Martha’s unusual capabilities as the story goes on.

All the while delivering babies, Bridget is trying to quickly find out the true murderer when another murder occurs. This story is full of intrigue and secrets. People are taking sides with either King Charles or the Parliament rebels. It is dangerous enough already to travel on foot around York, let alone with different fires and shootings going on. When you read this book, you feel that you are truly stepping back into history when the streets were not safe, day or night or when a message received was paid for with a penny.

As the story goes on, it get more complex and there are many suspects and with all the twists in the story, you don’t know who to trust besides, Bridget and her household. I gained a new understanding of the status of midwifes in that period, a much higher one that for women in general.

I think this book is a real treasure and if you love history and mystery, I hope that you will read it. ( )
  Carolee888 | Aug 28, 2013 |
Amazon recommended this book to me and I'm certainly glad they did. I just finished and already wish there were more by this author. I can compare it with Arianna Franklin's 'Mistress of the Art of Death' books, only I believe Mr. Thomas is a better writer. This book was written by an historian and it definitely shows. I very much enjoyed the historical aspect of this book, the customs surrounding midwifery in the time he has written.

The mystery was done very well, too. I had no idea whatsoever who the culprit was until the very last when it was revealed who did the dastardly deed. I do wish that one hateful person had been made to pay for her sins,though.

I will not hesitate to read another of Sam Thomas's books. He has a new fan. (The book has but a few profane words. I wish they could have been avoided simply because I don't think curse words add anything at all to a story.) (less) ( )
  SusanGibsonSnodgrss | Jun 5, 2013 |
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On the night I delivered Mercy Harris of a bastard child, the King's soldiers burned the city's suburbs and fell back within its walls to await the rebel assault.
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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.
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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 rebel's hands, midwife Bridget Hodgson becomes embroiled in a different sort of rebellion.

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Minotaur Books

2 editions of this book were published by Minotaur Books.

Editions: 1250010764, 1250038340

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