The basics: The Midwife's Daughter is the story of Violet Diamond, a midwife in pre-World War I England. When she visits the orphange her twin sister works at and spots a young orphan who bears a striking resemblance to her dead daughter, Violet adopts the girl and names her Grace. The key difference, as the cover indicates, is that Grace is black.
My thoughts: The Midwife's Daughter is a lovely piece of historical fiction. It is a character driven story featuring fully formed people, but it's also a fascinating insight into midwifery at a critical point in its history, as the advances in medicine are making fewer use midwives. As World War I looms, there is even more uncertainty for these characters and their lives.
Ferguson tackles a lot of themes in this novel. She is a trained nurse and midwife, and that expertise is felt in the story. The issues of race are interesting too. Ferguson shows many different experiences Grace faces over time and in different places.
The verdict: The Midwife's Daughter is an engaging historical novel. Despite the title, I found myself slightly more invested in Violet than Grace. Their relationship was fascinating, but Violet is the one I wanted to spend more time with. Still, I read this novel quickly, learned quite a bit about midwifery in England at the time, and I enjoyed the time I spent with these characters.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 390 pages
Publication date: October 30, 2012
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Want more? Visit Patricia Ferguson's website.
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