Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Alphabet in Historical Fiction: Midwife of the Blue Ridge by Christine Blevins

"It's a rare thing for a child to be delivered at my convenience..." Hannah launched herself from the warm cocoon of her bedcovers. A midwife is never surprised by a knock on the door, but Hannah Cameron was indeed surprised when she opened the door and found a strange, bedraggled mite of a girl on her stair step.

Title: Midwife of the Blue Ridge
Author: Christine Blevins
ISBN: 9780425221686
Publisher: Berkley books/2008
Pages: 417/Historical

It is early 1760s in Scotland. Maggie is that girl who arrives at Hannah's doorstep. She has survived the massacre in her village, and is taken to be unlucky. Hannah has no such notions and takes her in, teaching her all her medicinal skills. However Hannah's dies due to extreme cold and Maggie, at 22 years of age is again left with no one. No one is ready to marry the dark haired beauty as she is considered cursed.

Maggie only has her wits, her knowledge of medicines and her midwifery skills. She ventures out as an indentured servant towards the American colonies to seek a better life. In the ship she travels, she catches the eye of a debauched Duke, who wants to buy her out. However, Seth Martin succeeds in that as he needs someone to look after his three children and his sick and pregnant wife. Seth, is a good man and his family takes to Maggie in no time. Maggie with her knowledge of medicines becomes very popular. Tom Roberts, Seth's best friend is attracted towards her but does want to have any roots and leaves her for hunting.

Meanwhile, Cavendish, the Duke wants the land and Maggie bargains herself over to him, for Seth and his family. She is treated brutaaly almost broken and beaten. But she survives, all the while making plans to run away.

Blevins has treated the story well, she does not soft pedal it, she shows the stark reality a woman who has no support, has to face and endure. She shows the strength of character a woman can have in such circumstances. Maggie has all of those and knows how to survive. She does not let herself break apart.

The novel touches upon the perils of colonisation, the whites and the warrier Indians and shows both their strenghth and weaknesses. I did find it longwinded at places, but as a historical novel, it really works well.


The Great Catsby said...

Hey there, just stumbled across your blog and have to say I absolutely love the quote up at the top! So true!

Anonymous said...

I love historicals that take place in Scotland! I've always wanted to visit.

Marg said...

I have wanted to read this since it first came out! Thanks so much for your review.

Stephanie said...

This sounds like a terrific novel. I love Scotland!