Friday, October 17, 2008

Midwife of the Blue Ridge

Midwife of the Blue Ridge
by Christine Blevins
  • Publisher: Berkley Trade
  • 432 pages

First off, I want to say that this was a very engrossing novel.  I had a little trouble getting into it at first, mostly due to trying to get used to the heavy Scottish accents and language.  Once I got past the first couple of chapters, I had a really hard time putting the book down.  I just had to know what was going to happen next.

This book tells the story of Maggie Duncan, a Scottish woman, who leaves Scotland for America as an indentured servant.  The story starts with Maggie as a young girl, being the sole survivor of a violent raid on her village.  She escapes, and saves a wounded soldier in the process.  She gets him to his home before he dies, and his wife, Hannah, takes her in.  Hannah is a midwife, and teaches the craft to Maggie.

After Hannah's death, Maggie is left in a village that believes she is cursed by death, and scorns her.  In despair, she decides to take an offer to become an indentured servant in America, in exchange for passage on the ship, the Good Intent.  On board the ship, she befriends the captain and the crew and the other passengers, save one.  Julian Cavendish, the son of a Duke, decides he wants her for his slave, and she does all she can to avoid him during the passage.

Once the ship reaches the colonies, the captain does Maggie a favor and makes it where Cavendish is unable to purchase her contract.  She becomes the property of Seth Martin, who purchased her contract to have someone to help his pregnant wife with the chores and the other children.  They leave the coast of Virginia, and head to the Blue Ridge mountains.  Once at Seth's homestead, Maggie becomes more like a part of the family.  She is even looked upon as a valuable member of the community of Roundabout, for her medical knowledge.

Many different things happen to the Martin family and Maggie, as they live in a perilous time.  The Indians are on the warpath, and the Duke is dispossessing people from their homesteads that were mistakenly set up on his land.

The story goes on to detail many of the things that befall the little community and the people living in it.  It tells how Maggie goes from the Martins, to being bought by Julian Cavendish, to living among Indians, to getting rescued by the man she has fallen in love with.

I really like to read stories that are set in the time period of this story, the early years of the American settlers.  The trials of trying to stay alive in wild country, and trying not to get scalped by Indians really interest me.  Then when you add romance to the mix, it makes for one hell of a good read.  And that, to me, was what this book was.

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