finished reading

This novel is based on the real life figure Martha Ballard, an 18th Century midwife in Maine.  This is my favorite period in American history so I loved the nuances and details.  Martha's claim to fame is delivering over 800 babies and not losing one mother in her twenty-seven-year career as a midwife.  The mystery centers on a prominent figure of the community found dead--his body frozen in the river.  Martha's medical expertise is needed in declaring a cause of death.  And this is where the first power struggle comes into play.  Historically speaking, Martha was atypical because she was literate and is contradicted and challenged by a Harvard-educated medical doctor.  Martha's regular report to the Court was a rarity, as most women would not have been allowed to speak or testify in court.

I could go on and on about how much I loved this book!  The audio narration is fantastic!  This is easily one of the top books of the year!

From the publisher:
Maine, 1789: When the Kennebec River freezes, entombing a man in the ice, Martha Ballard is summoned to examine the body and determine cause of death. As a midwife and healer, she is privy to much of what goes on behind closed doors in Hallowell. Her diary is a record of every birth and death, crime and debacle that unfolds in the close-knit community. Months earlier, Martha documented the details of an alleged rape committed by two of the town’s most respected gentlemen—one of whom has now been found dead in the ice. But when a local physician undermines her conclusion, declaring the death to be an accident, Martha is forced to investigate the shocking murder on her own.

Over the course of one winter, as the trial nears, and whispers and prejudices mount, Martha doggedly pursues the truth. Her diary soon lands at the center of the scandal, implicating those she loves, and compelling Martha to decide where her own loyalties lie.

Clever, layered, and subversive, Ariel Lawhon’s newest offering introduces an unsung heroine who refused to accept anything less than justice at a time when women were considered best seen and not heard. The Frozen River is a thrilling, tense, and tender story about a remarkable woman who left an unparalleled legacy yet remains nearly forgotten to this day.

No comments: