The Midwife’s Revolt by Jodi Daynard
Published by Lake Union Publishing on April 7, 2015
Genres: [Adult] Historical Fiction
3 Stars, Completed April 9, 2015
– SPOILER free –
I think the main reason why I have the habit of judging books by the covers is because I often do not read the synopses. Or when I do, I skim them briefly. However, I do tend to revisit the blurb after reading the book to judge its accuracy and level of spoilery. This tactic usually makes the plot more enjoyable for me.
The Midwife’s Revolt was no exception to this routine. I wasn’t expecting much since the cover is pretty plain, but this was an absolutely great read. The book is about young Elizabeth “Lizzie” Lee Boylston and her contribution to the American Revolution. Being the dense non-history buff I am, I had no idea some of the main characters were real people until John Adams and John Quincy Adams were introduced in the story. Anyhow, in this Lizzie recounts her life living in Braintree, Massachusetts (now called Quincy I think) as a midwife. The revolt part of the title comes in when she decides to help with the Cause by disguising herself as a man to spy in Loyalist taverns. There’s even some mystery as more events ensue, and Lizzie experiences loss, love, and betrayal.
There was so much I loved about this book. Lizzie’s character was sassy and strong. She was portrayed as an unconventional women of the 18th century. Unlike many women of her time, she used her intelligence and courage to help with a political cause. Often times, she made mistakes, which made the fictitious tale believable. I also read Daynard’s acknowledgements and endnotes, and she mentions how a good historical fiction writer can make readers blur the facts and fiction. Throughout the entire story, she made this division seamless. To be honest, a lot of it was so believable I even googled all the characters names to determine the real characters from the fictional. It’s evident that Daynard did her research on the dates as well, almost all the them correlated with tentative Revolutionary War timelines (even the month and days, I was intrigued enough to check). And at first I was miffed that Lizzie’s husband died early on (this isn’t a spoiler, this was already in the goodreads/book’s official synopsis). So I thought there’d be very little romance, but Daynard manages to incorporate some romance and humor in the book after all. It was nice to see that the romance contributed to the story but it didn’t over-dominate the plot. Also, the writing was brilliant and the somewhat old English fits perfectly with the setting.
So why did I give this only 3 stars despite all my praise? Five to eight chapters into the book I was confident in giving it 2 stars despite the fantastic writing. And by the midpoint of the book, I was pretty set on 2.5 stars, but when I completed it I knew it deserved at least 3. So basically, it got better as the story continued. A good half of the book was very boring. Lizzie recounting the beginning of the political uproar between the Patriots and Loyalists, monologuing why she chose midwifery as a profession, and explaining farming and domestic techniques bore me terribly. I think the only reason that kept me motivated to read was my curiosity on what the midwife’s revolt was since I didn’t read the synopsis in the beginning. However, I’m sure that if I did I would have quit reading entirely, which would have been a shame. The tale was good but definitely possessed a slow and dry start. So slow I had to deduct a huge chunk of stars, 2 to be exact.
As brilliant of a read this was, it isn’t the best historical fiction novel out there and definitely isn’t one I recommend for people that want to indulge in a historical fiction work for the first time. It takes quite a long time to build up to the interesting plot, but worth it if you want a unique account of the American Revolutionary War.
And thank you Lake Union and Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to review this! In no way did this affect my reading experience and honest review.