#124 ~ Midwife of the Blue Ridge ~ Book Review and Giveaway

November 22, 2008 at 11:29 am | Posted in Books, Culture, Family, Historical Fiction | 26 Comments
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Midwife of the Blue Ridge by Christine Blevins

Maggie Duncan lost her family as a very young girl during a massacre between the British and the Scottish.  Her destiny falls into place when she helps a injured man find his way home to his wife, Hannah.  Hannah, a midwife and local healer, realizes almost instantly that her husband’s gangrene will end his life.  Childless, she sees Maggie’s arrival as the blessing to bloom from her husband’s death.  She takes Maggie under her wings and teaches her healing and midwifery.  Unfortunately, the little Scottish town in which they live is superstitious.  They think that Maggie is bad luck given what happened to her parents.  They believe she possesses the powers of the evil eye.  When Hannah gets sick with consumption, she gives Maggie one last gift before she dies – she plants the seed about going to the America.  After Hannah’s death, Maggie is living hand to mouth.  When she’s offered the opportunity to sale to America at the cost of spending four years as an indentured servant, Hannah’s words come back to her and she travels to find her destiny in the New World.

The Midwife of the Blue Ridge is an engaging novel about the joys, struggles, and courage of those who took the risk of leaving their home land in order to make their own way in Virginia.  From the very beginning, America was seen as a land of opportunity to those whose futures in their home countries was set from the moment of their conception.  It says a great deal that people would knowingly agree to four years of indentured service under unknown masters in order to have a shot at creating their own fortunes and secure their own land.  Christine Blevins brings this all to life through Maggie, Seth Martin and Tom Roberts.  Just as vividly, Blevins writes of those who were forced to go to the New World by their privileged and wealthy families found them to be an embarrassment best kept an ocean away.  Their resentment over their circumstances colored their view of this new land and how they treated other people.  In the Colonial Virginia painted in this novel, it is a toss up as to who was more savage, the Shawnee warriors or the disgraced lords of England.

Maggie Duncan is one of the most delightful heroines I’ve encountered in a long time.  Although her accent was difficult for me to catch on to at first, I was soon caught up in the story of this clever, sassy, and giving young woman.  The very scrappiness that was viewed suspiciously by her Scottish kinsmen was what kept her safe and gave her the advantage she needed to get off to a good start as Seth’s servant.  She endeared herself to Seth, Naomi and their children by her generous spirit and her strong work ethic.  Her sarcastic spunkiness endeared her to almost every single man she encountered.  I admired her optimistic yet pragmatic attitude toward life and the courage she displayed under the most stressful conditions found in the Virginia wilderness.  I enjoyed every minute I spent with her and hope that my daughters growing up in the Blue Ridge of Virginia four centuries later will develop her same strength of character.

Over the past couple of years I’ve read a great deal of wonderful historical fiction.  For the most part, I’ve shied away from historical fiction set in my own country.  I have read The Winthrop Woman and Devil Water by Anya Seton and, while they were both novels I enjoyed, they did not ignite in me the same excitement for my country’s history that Midwife of the Blue Ridge has.  Colonial America, just like Tudor England and Venice has its own charms and dangers to explore.  After reading Blevins’ novel, I am looking forward to spending some more time at home.


Christine Blevins was kind enough to send me two copies of Midwife of the Blue Ridge, but that’s not all.  She also sent some wonderful smelling goodies!  If you would like a chance to win your own copy of Midwife of the Blue Ridge, a bar of handmade lavender soap and a bag of tea leaves, please leave a comment below about your favorite heroine or your favorite destination when you read historical fiction by 11:59pm EST on Monday, November 24.  I’ll take all the entries and add them to the List Randomizer.  The first name in the list will win the grand prize.  The last name in the list will also win a bag of tea leaves.  Based on the way the tea leaves smell, they will make a wonderful and relaxing cup of hot goodness during the winter.  The winners will be announced by noon EST on the 25th.  Good luck!

To buy this novel on Amazon.com, click here.


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  1. I’ve never read much historical fiction, but I did read The 19th Wife earlier this year and really enjoyed it.

  2. Wow, tough. I haven’t read much historical fiction recently. I’ve read really great historical fiction set in the US, but I’m probably most drawn to UK or more exotic settings — The Story of the Stone, set in ancient China, was amazing.

  3. I love historical fiction, and one of my favorites is Outlander, the heroine is Claire. It’s a book of romance and time-travel, but I consider it to be wonderful historical fiction. I like to read historical fiction about England because it is the only European country that I have visited in person.

  4. Currently I am reading The Triumph of Deborah by EVA ETZIONI-HALEVY. And I quite like Deborah, a very minded woman.

    This book to sounds good!

  5. This sounds very good. Great review 🙂
    I enjoy historical fiction, I think my favorite setting is Scotland.

  6. Honestly I can’t think of a book that I’ve read that is historical fiction, I’d love to expand my horizons and read this book, thanks for entering me!

  7. I read a tremendous amount of historical fiction, and I must say that it’s difficult for me to pick a favorite heroine or locale. I love learning something new about many different places and people. Big sprawling epics that follow one family are my favorites. As a native of the Blue Ridge, I would welcome the opportunity to win this book.

    P.S. I haven’t forgotten that I owe you a review of Femme Fatale — I hope to read it during some time off during the holidays 🙂

  8. My favourite character is also Claire from Diana Gabaldon’s series. That comes to mind because I have just picked up number 4 book (Drums of Autumn) again tonight so I can re-read the last 3 books. Have read the first 3 books so many times I have lost count! I’m quite open to where historical fiction is set – being a New Zealander, any other place is interesting and different although I am partial to Scotland and Ireland, purely because that is where my ancestors came from.

    Loved this review – the book sounds great.

  9. I mostly read historical fiction, and my favourite destination is medieval England. The is such a depth of description with the variance from the different levels of society, from the richness of fabrics and food in the houses of the nobility, the gritty, hard working lives of the people on the land and those living the hard live hand to mouth inthe cities and towns.

    A favourite heroine….I instantly thought of Claire too but I am going to come up with someone else. Joanna from Here Be Dragons by Sharon Penman. We got to see her grow for a teenage girl not sure of her place in the world, to the confident wife of Llewellyn.

  10. I enjoyed Deanna Raybourn’s “Silent in the Grave”…a historical mystery, and for romance, Pam Rosenthal’s “The Bookseller’s Daughter”. I love historical novels, and so want to read this one! Please enter me in your giveaway. Thank you.

    Happy Thanksgiving
    Sandy G.


  11. I love historical fiction, I love learning about other countries, and I can get lost in an earlier time, when things were so much simpler (not easier). I also love the colonial times here in the USA, and will read anything I can get my hands on. thanks so much for sharing. please enter me.

    carolyn s

    ceashark at aol dot com

  12. My most recent favorite heroine was Laura McAllan from MUDBOUND written by Hillary Jordan. It takes place in post WWII in the Mississippi Delta. Laura leaves everything she knows and moves with her husband to work a cotton farm with none of the comforts she grew up with and a racist, hard-nosed father-in-law who makes her life even harder.

    THE MIDWIFE OF BLUE RIDGE sounds like a book I would love to read! Thanks for entering me and for hosting this giveaway!

  13. I love Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon but I also love Sharpe by Bernard Cornwell. The last is due to the set being the Iberian Peninsula; some of the action takes place in Portugal, my country. 😛

  14. My favorite character to read about in historical fiction is Mary Boyeln!
    Thanks so much for this giveaway and thanks so much for the wonderful gifts!!!!
    darbyscloset at yahoo dot com

  15. This book sounds great. I’m a former Virginia resident who went to college in the Blue Ridge area. I love reading books set in places I’ve been to. Its such an interesting way to think about something familiar in a new way.

    My favorite destination in reading historical fiction is probably Tudor/Elizabethan England — despite the fact that I’ve never actually been to England. I’d love to go someday, though.

  16. Oh, it’s a tie between Tudor and Elizabethan England, medieval Europe or Europe during WWII. How’s that for not being able to narrow it down?!?!

    No need to enter me in the giveaway Jennifer. I’d read mixed reviews on this one and was really curious to see how you liked it. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!!!

  17. I’m going to go with medieval Europe as my favorite. Although I have to say Laura Ingalls Wilder has been a favorite since childhood, but I’m not sure her work would classified as historical fiction. Thanks for the great giveaway!

    jgbeads AT gmail DOT com

  18. I would have to say my favorite historical fiction destination is England, particularly during Tudor dynasty, such as Philippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  19. I am one of those people that every book that I pick up quickly becomes my “favorite”! I am currently reading In the Shadow of Lions by Ginger Garrett – where Anne Boleyn is one of the main characters – and she is quickly becoming my favorite. I am looking forward to finding some other books on her to continue to get different perspectives when this one is finished.

    Please enter me in your drawing!


  20. Oh I loved Orchid from the book ‘Empress Orchid’. She was the last emprees of China. Although the empress was real, the book is a fictionalized account of her life.

    Please enter me if international.

  21. My favourite heroine of all time is Eleanor of Aquitaine, a truly remarkable woman! She lived in the 12th century, a great heiress in her own right, Queen of France and then Queen of England as wife to Henry II. She led her sons in rebellion against her husband, spent 16yrs as his prisoner, outlived him and saw two of her sons become king in their turn. She lived to the grand old age of 82 and still fascintes us 800 years after her death.
    Please enter me in your contest, the book sounds intruiging. Thanks!

  22. My favorite destination is the Highlands of Scotland just the sound of it inspires a sense of peace and awe.

  23. I really enjoy historical fiction; helps me learn things. Maybe I’ll get lucky again?? Thanks for the offering! Linda/CT

  24. Thank you so much for all of the good leads! Good luck everyone!

  25. This one sounds very good and has a very engaging storyline. Thanks for the great review. 🙂

  26. I look forward to this book. It sounds fascinating. I loved the Winthrop Woman & Devil Water, so this should be a great read.

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