The Indigo Girl: A Novel by Natasha BoydTaking charge of her family's plantation, 16-year-old Eliza Lucas decides to pay off her father's debts with a lucrative commodity: indigo dye. However, in 1739 South Carolina, indigo is an experimental crop and dye-making is a mysterious process known only to the estate's enslaved workers, who brought the knowledge with them from Africa. In exchange for their expertise, Eliza teaches her new assistants to read and write, which is against the law. This atmospheric novel draws on letters and archival documents to tell the story of a real-life entrepreneur and the first woman to be inducted into South Carolina's Business Hall of Fame.
Birdcage Walk by Helen DunmoreFrom the safety of 1790s Bristol, England, freethinker and radical pamphleteer Julia Elizabeth Fawkes reacts, first with eagerness and then with dismay, as the promise of the French Revolution gives way to the bloody reality of the Reign of Terror. However, the conflict abroad poses more personal danger to Julia's daughter, Lizzie, whose property developer husband finds his business interests threatened by the prospect of war and descends into obsession and paranoia. Complex characters and Gothic atmosphere add intrigue to this historical domestic drama.
The Revolution of Marina M. by Janet FitchAs revolutionary fervor engulfs 1916 St. Petersburg, budding Bolshevik Marina Makarova rejects her bourgeois background and embraces radical politics. The resulting societal upheaval will affect not only Marina but also her family, friends, and lovers. This sweeping saga stars a courageous and passionate heroine who survives a turbulent era of Russian history and may appeal to fans of Simon Sebag-Montefiore's Sashenka.
I, Eliza Hamilton by Susan Holloway Scott"Love is not easy with a man chosen by Fate for greatness," declares Elizabeth Schuyler as she proceeds to recount her long (and sometimes tumultuous) relationship with her husband, Alexander Hamilton. From the couple's first meeting to Hamilton's death in a now-infamous duel, this richly detailed novel provides readers with a glimpse into a couple's marriage and a woman's heart. Readers interested in Alexander's perspective of events may enjoy Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman's The Hamilton Affair.
The Last Midwife by Sandra DallasThe only midwife in the isolated mining town of Swandyke, Colorado, Gracy Brookens believes with all her heart that delivering babies is her life's purpose. When a wealthy mine owner accuses her of murdering his infant son, Gracy's life and livelihood are threatened. Although Gracy knows that she's innocent, she also realizes that it may not matter -- being a witness to people's private lives makes her dangerous to those with secrets to keep. Like author Sandra Dallas' previous novel, Fallen Women, The Last Midwife employs well-researched details of life in 1880s Colorado to tell the dramatic story of a marginalized woman who confronts a small town's social elite in her pursuit of truth.
Monsoon Summer by Julia GregsonAfter serving as a nurse during World War II, trainee midwife Kit Smallwood marries Anto Thekken, an Oxford-educated Indian physician, and accompanies him to Bombay, where she's accepted a position overseeing a charitable maternity hospital. An already challenging job is made more difficult by the disapproval of both her Anglo-Indian mother and her husband's traditional family. Set in a newly independent India, Monsoon Summer introduces an idealistic young woman navigating both married life and a society in transition.
The Midwife of Hope River: A Novel by Patricia HarmanDuring the Great Depression, West Virginia midwife Patience Murphy delivers babies to women who can't afford a doctor. Dogged by her own scandalous history, Patience maintains a solitary lifestyle until she unexpectedly acquires an African-American apprentice, Bitsy, and a colleague, Daniel Hester, a World War I veteran to whom she slowly opens her heart. But when Patience's past eventually catches up with her, it threatens to destroy everything she's worked for. Author Patricia Harman, a certified nurse-midwife, skillfully depicts the profession of midwifery while bringing to life a rural Appalachian community of the 1930s.
The Orphan Mother: A Novel by Robert HicksBorn into slavery, Mariah Reddick (first introduced in The Widow of the South) is now a free woman and a successful midwife in Franklin, Tennessee. Occupied with her work and the management of her modest property holdings, she's always steered clear of politics. Then her only child, Theopolis, is killed at a rally, prompting Mariah to seek his killers and bring them to justice. Set during Reconstruction, this novel explores a mother's grief while exposing the racial fault lines in a segregated Southern town.
The Birth House: A Novel by Ami McKayIn 1917 Nova Scotia, 17-year-old Dora Rare, the first daughter in five generations of her family, becomes an apprentice to elderly midwife Marie Babineau. Together they use herbs and folk remedies to help the women of their isolated community during difficult labors, unwanted pregnancies, and heartbreaking losses. Then a medical doctor arrives in their village promising sterile and painless births in a modern maternity hospital, and Dora and Marie's traditional methods come under scrutiny. This absorbing debut novel was a bestseller in Canada.
The Midwife of Venice: A Novel by Roberta RichWith her merchant husband, Isaac, held captive by pirates, midwife Hannah Levi is desperate to earn his ransom. Although a Papal edict forbids Jewish healers from treating Christian patients, Hannah risks her life, first by delivering a countess' baby and then by continuing to provide assistance to the new mother and her sickly infant. For another richly detailed, character-driven historical novel about a 16th-century female Venetian physician who braves misogyny, religious persecution, and political unrest to aid others, check out Regina O'Melveny's The Book of Madness and Cures.
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