The Midwife’s Tale By Delia Parr

Martha Cade is a practicing midwife in the 1830’s. Widowed for ten years, she has learned to be a strong independent woman. Her livelihood depends on her practice. She does have some family support in the way of her brother and sister-in-law who allow her to live in a room in their tavern.
While she is out of town caring for a new mother for a long period of time, she learns that her 17 year old daughter, Victoria, has run away to be a traveling performer. It was Martha’s dream she become a midwife as was her grandmother before her. For 3 months she travel’s looking for her daughter, but returns empty handed. She is ashamed of her daughter’s poor choice, and dreads facing her patients and the townspeople. Her heart is broken and as any mother would, she begins to blame herself and look at where she might have been at fault. Concerns for her child’s safety, whereabouts, and return are always on her mind, but she must go on.
Her disappointing return isn’t the only challenge she is facing. Immediately upon arriving home, she is called to a delivery only to find a new doctor has moved to town and plans to take over all future births. Martha is faced with the possibility of having to leave to make a living elsewhere. To add to her already stirring emotions, an old suitor returns who is recently widowed.
I love Martha’s character. She is very mature in dealing with conflict and opposition. Her humility and soft answer do nothing to lessen her strength to stand up for what is right. This does not mean she doesn’t feel the rejection and judgement from the town gossips and busybodies. While they might bother her, it does not change her determination. Even fictional characters can encourage us, and I was so by Martha’s unfailing faith in God and her integrity.
I was fascinated by the details of the practice of midwifery during this era. It is mind boggling to think of all the people born between now and modern medicine. I find it unbelievable when I think of the mothers, with few resources to alleviate their suffering or medical help as we know it in case of an emergency. The midwives were truly amazingly skilled women with what little they had to work with. The “modern medicine” of the time, on the other hand, was rather barbaric and the practices not always beneficial. While I completely every aspect of the book, the historical medical parts were my favorite!
This book definitely had an impact on me from a spiritual point. In looking at Martha’s Christian walk, I look at many spiritual lessons I could apply to my own life. It is a rare book that can bring you pleasure in reading it and scriptural truth at the same time!

I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

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