Book Review

Book Review of The Midwife's Revolt by Jodi Daynard

The Midwife's Revolt

The Midwife's Revolt

Lizzie Boyleston is newly married and quite in love, but right as she and her husband settle into a small farm  in Massachusetts, life is turned upside down by the Revolutionary War.  As her husband rides away toward Boston to be a soldier, she sits forlorn and frightened in the open doorway of the kitchen garden. "The chickens, thinking I had something for them, came pecking at my feet. But I had nothing for them except tears."

The Midwife's Revolt throws you into the turbulent times of our nation's early history. The thing that struck me about the book though was how it really delved into the personal lives of the women behind the scenes (and sometimes in the thick of things). Lizzie experiences the gamut of emotions and experiences: the bitterness and pain of her husband's death, her struggle to fit into her small community, her blossoming friendship with Abigail Adams, the conflict as she begins to grow fond of a young man and begins to suspect he might be spying for the Tories, adventure as she gets wrapped up in a bit of spying herself and even the mundane every day accomplishment of chores and just…life. The characters of the book are portrayed as real and down to earth. You get a feel for how the Revolution affected families in their daily lives. Lizzie tends the sick and helps usher in new lives as a midwife while beginning to make her own little family with an orphaned apprentice, Martha. As she finds herself falling in love with Martha's brother, she struggles with the fact that he might be on the wrong side. The story carries you along with Lizzie as she struggles to uncover the truth, risking discovery. It's more than her heart at stake. The Patriots she has become close to could be harmed and she will do what she can to help them…

The story is told in first person by Lizzie, as if she's recounting the story of her life to you, a trusted friend. Sometimes this works beautifully, but sometimes it's jarring and irritating. Sometimes the story moved so slowly that I was tempted to skip along, which is really rare for me. I was torn between really liking parts of this book and sometimes really getting bogged down and wanting to shelve it. There were parts that were so beautiful and so accurately captured the time period with authentic dialogue and other parts that seemed out of character and incredibly stilted. While there is a little dash of romance, the book is entirely appropriate for a teen. There are no bodice ripping moments and the writing comes across more like a "clean" classic. The most detailed reference to s*x is the following - as Lizzie comments on her husband in the beginning of the book, "Jeb touched my face by the firelight and teased me that I'd be quite fat by spring, so frequently did we obey the holy command to go forth and multiply."

I'm a huge lover of historical fiction and while I really did enjoy parts of this book, I had a hard time finishing it because of some of the awkward writing and parts that were just too mundane and characters that didn't connect as well as I would have liked. I think Jodi Daynard has a lot of talent and hopefully with a bit more editing and polishing, her next book will resonate a little better. I seem to be in the minority of reviewers who didn't just fall in love with it though, so if you are looking for a historical read, Midwife's Revolt might be worth looking at.

*I recieved a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

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