Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Midwife of the Blue Ridge-Christine Blevins

Midwife of the Blue Ridge
Christine Blevins
Berkley, Aug 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425221686

The Scottish assume that Maggie Duncan is cursed because she as an eight years old child was the only survivor of the overflow of the Culloden massacre in her nearby village of Bailebeg. She was taken in by Hannah Cameron, the midwife of the Village of Black Corries; thus no surprise she became a midwife too.

However, by 1760 the twenty-two year old Maggie knows she has no future in Scotland because her fortune to survive years earlier is treated by others as if she has the black eye. She pays her crossing fee to the colonies with four years of indentured service. While on the ship crossing the Atlantic, drunken viscount Julian Cavendish tries to rape her. In the Virginia Colony, Seth Martin needs Maggie's skills to save his wife so he buys her servitude contract. His best friend Tom Roberts is attracted to the Scotswoman and she reciprocates, but Lord Julian plans to finish what he started at sea.

This excellent colonial romance works because Christine Blevins paints a powerfully vivid portrait of the often horrific lot of women on both sides of the Atlantic, but especially in the colonies. Lord Julian feels it is his God given right to rape an unmarried Scottish commoner; he sets somewhat the tone. Contrasting him are the kind hearted frontiersmen Seth and Tom. However, the key to this character driven historical is optimistic magnificent Maggie, whose realism re her plight is tempered by her Pollyanna hopes for the future.

Harriet Klausner

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