Friday, September 12, 2008

Midwife of the Blue Ridge by Christine Blevins


Midwife of The Blue Ridge by Christine Blevins

Fiction, Berkley Trade Paperback, 417 pgs.

Released August 2008

Historical fiction demands a great deal of a writer, not just in the way of accuracy of details and believable characters, but also a strong sense of time and place. Christine Blevins achieves this nicely in Midwife of the Blue Ridge. Dominated by a sense of adventure with a strong underlying romance that works its way through the story, it's a rewarding read.

Maggie Duncan, adopted by a midwife after surviving the destruction of her village in 1740s Scotland, finds herself an outcast when the midwife dies. Trained in midwifery and the healing arts, she is still looked upon as a person cursed by the very fact of her survival of that slaughter. Superstition prevents her from practicing her craft and she is considered unmarriageable. She is forced to sell herself into indentured servitude in the New World. She reaches America persued by a drunken brute of a nobleman's son, one Julian Cavendish, who wants to buy her for his own purposes. He is furious when outsmarted and her contract of service is purchased by a decent man, a settler-farmer named Seth Martin. With three children and a pregnant and ailing wife, Maggie is the answer to their prayers. But these are colonial times and life is anything but easy for those trying to tame the primitive wilderness of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virgina.

There is the usual mix of compelling characters you'd expect here. Farmers and settlers, trappers and hunters, frontiersmen and frontier widows, soldiers and Indians, and the requisite scoundrels and reprobates. When Maggie develops a strong attachment to Tom Roberts, a tall handsome trapper, she is bound for disappointment. He is a wanderer who appears now and again and lives outdoors and wants no other kind of life. It's not long before raids by Shawnee war parties drive the surrounding settlers, including the Martins and Maggie into the closest fort for protection. After some weeks of that terror in close quarters and deprived living conditions, they return home to find Cavendish in their lives again, legal papers in hand, land-grabbing and forcing people out of their homes. Maggie bargains for leniency for Seth and his family and lets Cavendish take her, hoping to escape later. She will suffer at his hands but make new friends before she ends up in the hands of the Indians and sees how they live and take revenge for the white man's atrocities. Danger has many faces for a young women of the times.

The story is rich with details of plants and medicines, food and clothing, tools and weapons of the period. The author seems to have done her homework in that regard. The Scottish dialect of some of the characters adds appropriate colour. The story is compelling and the book really is hard to put down. There are a couple of scenes of violence that are graphic, including a rape. There's swearing but I cannot imagine frontiersmen and roughnecks all speaking like pastors. For this is not a romance per se as the cover may at first suggest. It is historical fiction and adventure as well. The author gives us all the best and worst of frontier life; the hopes and fears, the hardships and the rewards. It is a job well done. Four stars out of five.
Christine Blevins homepage:
Thank you to the author for the review copy she sent me.

In Conjunction With Book Blogger Appreciation Week (click on the logo in sidebar) I am having a GIVEAWAY.
I'm giving away my ARC copy of Midwife of the Blue Ridge by Christine Blevins.
Open worldwide until midnight Sunday, September 21, 2008.
1) To enter tell me which book is at the top of your fiction wishlist right now and why you want to read it. (Longer comments are encouraged but not required.)
2) If you blog about this giveaway and put a link back to it, I'll give you a second entry. If you don't have a blog, email 3 friends telling them about this giveaway and copying me at sfuhringer(at) sympatico(dot) ca.
Please leave a contact address if you're entering the giveaway and don't have a blog where I can contact you.
Winner will be announced on Monday, September 22,2008.
This book is part of the LibraryThing Author Challenge


  1. If you asked me yesterday what was at the top of my wishlist, I'd have said The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, but yesterday was my birthday, and I have a wonderful husband who knows me very well, and he took me to Barnes and Noble with $150 in gift cards to spend. (You know it doesn't go as far as you'd think it would). Anyway, I ended up getting 'the potato book' and quite a few others (most of them were for my kids, but that's ok - I'll read those, too). So, you'd think my wishlist was down to nothing, but then today I realized I had forgotten that I really wanted The Somnambulist by Jonathan Barnes. So, it's now at the top of my wishlist - it's been on there since I first heard about it on LibraryThing, and I can't really say why except that it looks really good.

    Oh, and by the way, I really like your header.

  2. TRACI: Thank you. My review of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is under August. Let me know how you liked it,or if you write a review so I can read it.
    I've never read Jonathan Barnes. Come back and let us know how it is.

  3. My top pick is the upcoming "Sweetheart" by Chelsea Caine because I just finished reading the first book called "Heartsick" and it blew me away. It's a psychological thriller with a very twisted serial killer and it's not the type of thing I would normally read but I was riveted to the book and it captured and held my interest the entire way through. I can't wait to read the follow-up novel and see what mind game the serial killer has up her sleeve. (She's currently in jail.)

  4. As far as books about to be released, I am most looking forward to Sharon Penman's The Devils Brood. Her books are such a trip to read! So much research and historical detail. And Eleanor of Aquitaine and her brood are some of my favourite historical figures.

  5. Hey, Sandra! AWESOME review. Wow.

    No need to enter me. I'm just dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail and the contest is posted at Win a Book. Keep those Monday contests coming! :D

  6. Hi Sandra! You have set up a awesome blog here! At the top of my wishlist there's Leftovers from Laura Wiess, because I have just finished her book Such A Pretty Girl and it was such an amazing, powerful book that I wantr to read more from here. Another book I'm eagerly awaiting to read is The Gargoyle, because I've read so many brilliant reviews that I'm sure it must be a very good book.

  7. Rhett Butler's People, because I think it would be a fascinating thing to read the story from his point of view and I really liked Gone With The Wind. Also, The Historian. Big book, but it has an interesting premise too.

  8. My top fiction pick to read right now is Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. I added it to my list, and ever since then I have been getting comments from people about how wonderful the book is. I'm so curious about it now that it's gone to the top of my list.

  9. Firoozeh Dumas' "Laughing Without an Accent: Adventures of an Iranian American, at Home and Abroad" is right now at the top of my list. Because i loved her first book, it was funny and as an iranian i could quite see a whole lot of things she was talking about and also because my mom would also love to read it, so this book got two readers (actually three as my best friend would probably try to steal it from us :)) already in our household

  10. I need to pick up Immortal by Traci Slatton because that is the next book on our bookclub list - but I am hot right now for Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire series because of HBO's new series "True Blood" which my husband and I completely enjoyed watching. So I want to read those books. All of them.

  11. I blogged about your contest here.

  12. Looks like a great book! I shared about your giveaway here:

    Have A Happy Day!
    Deborah @ A Cup of Joy


  13. Hey there! Please enter me in this giveaway. The story reminds me of the Sunfire Romance series I read when I was growing up.

    I am really excited to read The Gargoyle. I won a copy a couple of months ago but haven't had the opportunity to read it yet due to my books-to-be-reviewed pile that keeps growing every day I check the mail.

    The book at the top of my wish list though is BEGINNER'S GREEK: A NOVEL by James Collins. I keep seeing it all over the internet and am very interested.

  14. I really want to read Sailor Girl by Sheree-Lee Olson. I actually thought about joining the crew of a freighter when I was about the same age as the main character. I never did, so I want to read the book to see what my life might have been like if I had actually done that. Thanks for doing the giveaway!


  15. My wish list is way too long. It's one reason I love my public library so much. But, near the top of my list are Matrimony by Joshua Henkin and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer. I just picked up Matrimony from the library, but I'm something like #58 on the waiting list for the other one!

    I blogged about your giveaway too:

  16. Top of my list is Matrimony by Joshua Henkin after reading reviews on many blogs this week. I am new to blogging and came to blogging for the book blogs and boy was I surprised just how many there are. Why read this, I love reading. I have alot of time that I could sit and stare at the sky or twiddle my thumbs. I like a variety and this one really looks like one I might just feel like I was there, and yes I love those books that make me feel like I am there.

  17. I blogged about it here:

  18. hey sandra! do enter me for this giveaway as well.. i have been wanting to read Matrimony after reading ALL those reviews in soo many blogs.. that's the first on my wishlist right now:)

  19. i blogged about this here:

  20. Hmmmm... there are so many that I want to read... I guess I'd say Michelle Moran's The Heretic Queen. Ever since I read her Nefertiti I have been aching for more. I actually have just acquired her book and cannot read it fast enough. I cannot wait for more from her.

    Historical Fictions are just my favorite. I just love them. All eras and areas. There are few that I really haven't liked. This is the first that I have heard of Midwife of the Blue Ridge and now I'm just dying to read it.
    Please please please put me in! I'd really really love to read and review it.

    cherryblossommj (at) gmail [dot] com

  21. THe book at the top of my fictions book list is the Luxe: Rumors... I know its YA, but one of the blogger friends of mine said the Luxe [its prequel], was good. So I read it... I thought I wouldn't like it do to the fact that its more of a gossip 1900s style novel [which isn't what I read at all]... but to my surprise I read it and was really drawn into to the characters like Penlope [how viscous can you get?] and Diane, who is simply just quirky and entertaining.

    SO I really want to read the sequel, but am about 20 on the hold list at the library... so I have to wait for a bit.



    etwilight @ yahoo .com

  22. Right now the top of my wishlist is Faefever by Karen Marie Moning. I started reading her time travel romance novels and then got caught up in this urban fantasy series. Now I anxiously wait for the next installment. She was the first author I read in this genre and I love her writing.
    Thanks for hosting this giveaway, I love historical fiction and especially those set in appalachia!

  23. The previous post just reminded me that Karen Marie Moning has a new book out, Fae Fever. That one just moved to the top of my list. I love her books! Before that it was The Host by Stephenie Meyer. As you can tell, I love paranormal-type books.
    digicat @

  24. Blogged you here!

  25. the newest Michael Connelly book!

    plur268 at yahoo dot com

  26. It has been a long time since I have read any good fiction. It is time I took a little time to read a good fiction book and this seems like a good book to start. I usually read Science Fiction but to try some other types of books.

  27. I have too many books on my wish list. However one book I want to read is Man In The Dark by Paul Aster. Sine I read a mini review of it in The New Yorker, I am hankering for it.


  28. This looks like a really, really interesting book. Especially if you are somebody going into plant medicine and has an interest in midwifery. I know that sounds strange, but since I was 15 I have always been interested. (I'm 18 now.)

    Hmm, the current top book on my wishlist is "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak. I have heard excellent things about it and I hope to enjoy it as much as others have.

    eancais (at) :)

  29. Strangely enough, the book at the top of my wishlist right now is actually non-fiction! It's not that I don't read non-fiction, I do. Non-fiction is just usually something I pick up spur-of-the-moment at the bookstore. My actual wishlist is purely fiction.

    Anyway, the book is Literally, the Best Language Book Ever: Annoying Words and Abused Phrases You Should Never Use Again. It caught my eye on Amazon and now I'm dying to know what phrases and words I currently use that I shouldn't. :)

  30. It's a toss up between Testimony by Anita Shreve (which I want to read because she's an awesome writer and I've read all her other books) and The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran (which I want to read because it's the sequel to Nefertiti, which was a GREAT book!)

    --Anna (Diary of an Eccentric)

  31. The two books I am anticipating most at the moment are The Devil's Brook by Sharon Penman and A Time of Singing by Elizabeth Chadwick!

  32. Right now, I'm interested in reading Stephen King's Duma Key and also Neil Gaiman's Sandman series (which was recommended by a friend).
    I read all kinds of books, from historical to horror to fantasy to the classics...I like variety;)

    Please enter me into the contest as this novel looks like a great read!!

  33. My top pick is The Biography Of Henry The VIII. I am obsessed with all that is Henry as of late and I am slowly moving into his children. I studied some of his wives... Its just like soap ophra but true! Thanks for the chance to win!

  34. A dance with Dragons. Oh and I don't want to read it, I have to. Bloody long series this has been, and i can't not finish it. I hope it's released soon too..

  35. Hello! I have been wanting to read
    William P. Young's book "The Shack!"
    The cover first caught my attention and then I wondered if it were an analogy to the manger where Mary, Joseph and Jesus stayed. There seems to be such controversy over this book. Supposedly, its' Biblical accuracy. I want to read it and form my own opinion. Please enter me in your delightful book drawing. Many thanks, Cindi

  36. I liked your review of this much better than mine! You really highlighted all the things that I loved about this book. This is a case of one of those books that I would have absolutely loved if just one or two things had been a little bit different.

  37. Great site! I'm visiting from the Cym Lowell Book Review Wednesdays. Feel free to check me out too:

  38. Love your site. Great review.

    Stopping by from Cym Lowell's book review giveaway.




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