Posted By Claire on February 11, 2014
When I started to read this mystery I was disappointed that some of the social aspects of the day were not explained, maybe in a glossary at the beginning, and I would have liked to see an old map of York too. As I became more and more involved in the book I found that actually it didn’t matter and I enjoyed it tremendously.
I studied the Tudors and Stuarts for history O’ level (GCSE as it is now) many years ago but there was very little in the way of the social history apart from the Plague and the Fire, probably the only dates I remember. Politics, wars and battles were the name of the game. I wanted to know how people lived, what did they eat, how did they manage their households, what did they treat illnesses with and who delivered their children? Much of this information is included in this book as well as the politics of the day (not too much), and how it affected the day to day lives of the people during the siege of York by Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentary forces.
If you, like me, are interested in the social history of the day and like “who dunnits”, I thoroughly recommend this book. Follow The Lady Bridget Hodgson, her servant Martha and the rest of the Hodgson family through childbirth, murder, mystery, York and its seedier side, to finally uncover who the perpetrator of the crimes is and if you wish to know more about the background to the book, go to the Authors Note on Page 309 as it is all explained there.
In the tradition of Arianna Franklin and C. J. Sansom comes Samuel Thomas’s remarkable debut, The Midwife’s Tale.
It is 1644, and Parliament’s armies have risen against the King and laid siege to the city of York. Even as the city suffers at the rebels’ hands, midwife Bridget Hodgson becomes embroiled in a different sort of rebellion. One of Bridget’s friends, Esther Cooper, has been convicted of murdering her husband and sentenced to be burnt alive. Convinced that her friend is innocent, Bridget sets out to find the real killer.
Bridget joins forces with Martha Hawkins, a servant who’s far more skilled with a knife than any respectable woman ought to be. To save Esther from the stake, they must dodge rebel artillery, confront a murderous figure from Martha’s past, and capture a brutal killer who will stop at nothing to cover his tracks. The investigation takes Bridget and Martha from the homes of the city’s most powerful families to the alleyways of its poorest neighborhoods. As they delve into the life of Esther’s murdered husband, they discover that his ostentatious Puritanism hid a deeply sinister secret life, and that far too often tyranny and treason go hand in hand.
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books; Reprint edition (December 10, 2013)
Available as a paperback and Kindle from Amazon.com and Amazon UK. It should also be available from other bookshops.