Tags: 18th Centry America, book review, Christine Blevins, colonial America, evil eye, fiction, Historical Fiction, indentured servants, Midwife of the Blue Ridge, midwifery, Scotland, Shawanee, tobacco, Virginia, Viriginia Colony
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.