On Hist Fic Saturday
Let's go back to ....1848
17 February 2022
My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book
1838. After a violent storm, a woman is found alone, naked and near death, on the Northumberland moors. She has no memory of who she is or how she got there. But she can remember how to help a woman in labour and how to expertly dress a wound, and can speak fluent French. With the odds against her, a penniless single woman, she starts to build her life from scratch, using her skills to help other women around her. She finds a happy place in the world. Until tragedy strikes, and she must run for her life...
In London, Dr Borthwick lives a solitary life working as an accoucheur dealing with mothers and babies in the elegant homes of high society together with his midwife, Mrs Bates, and volunteering in the slums of the Devil’s Acre alongside a young widow, Eleanor Johnson. His professional reputation is spotless and he keeps his private life just as clean, isolating himself from any new acquaintances. But he is harbouring a dark secret from his past – one that threatens to spill over everything.
My Review ..
Naked and alone, and with no memory of who she is, our mysterious protagonist is taken in by an unfortunate couple who give her the name 'Joanna' but who then keep her in a life of penury. Eager to flee this miserable existence and without knowing where her expert medical knowledge comes from Joanna starts to build a new life for herself. Meanwhile in London, young Doctor Borthwick is making his name as an accoucheur looking after women in all stages of their pregnancy and delivery. In alternate chapters we get to know both of these characters really well as they live out their lives at opposite ends of the social divide.
There's a wonderful authenticity to The Midwife which I enjoyed especially the medical references which are both realistic and well explained. Joanna's life in Northumberland is brought into stark contrast alongside Doctor Borthwick's more affluent London lifestyle with his comfortable house and servants. The juxtaposition of the two is well done with enough intrigue to keep the story flowing and with a nice twist in the tale which adds an interesting dimension.
The Midwife is well written historical fiction and a commendable debut novel.
Best Read with...strong coffee and a slice of cake.
About the Author
Tricia Cresswell is a retired public health doctor. She temporarily returned to work in spring 2020 in support of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and volunteered as a vaccinator. She achieved a Distinction in her Creative Writing MA at Newcastle University in 2017. Creative response to the climate emergency has now taken priority in her writing.
The Midwife is a winner of Mslexia Debut Novel Award.
Twitter #TriciaCresswell #TheMidwife