Quaker midwife Rose Carroll is enjoying the 1888 Independence Day evening fireworks with her beau when a teenaged Quaker mill girl is found shot dead. After a former slave and fellow Quaker is accused of the murder, Rose delves into the crime, convinced of the man’s innocence. An ill-mannered mill manager, an Irish immigrant, and the victim’s young boyfriend come under suspicion even as Rose’s future with her handsome doctor suitor becomes unsure. Rose continues to deliver babies and listen to secrets, finally figuring out one criminal – only to be threatened by the murderer, with three lives at stake. Can she rescue herself, a baby, and her elderly midwifery teacher in time?
Called to Justice is as much historical fiction as it is cozy mystery, and I found both aspects of the story to be riveting. A young, unmarried woman confides in Rose that she is expecting a child, and then ends up being murdered during the Independence Day fireworks celebration. Determined to find justice for the girl and her unborn child, Rose manages to squeeze in a little investigating, between birthing babies and checking on the well-being of her clientele of local women waiting to deliver.
There was a lot of attention to detail and historical accuracy where the births in the story were concerned. Read on to see what author Edith Maxwell has to say about midwives and the birthing process, and for a chance to win a copy of the book.
On Giving Birth
by Edith Maxwell
My 1888 midwife Rose Carroll attends births in her clients’ homes as her profession. Some time ago I taught prepared childbirth classes to couples in my living room, but most of them chose hospitals or birthing centers for their labor and birth. I draw on my training and my experiences working as a doula (doing labor support) for many of the birthing scenes in the Quaker Midwife Mysteries.
When I was having babies several decades ago, we decided to have a home birth and enlisted independent midwives. Uncomplicated childbirth is a normal, healthy process that hasn’t changed over many centuries, and in European countries like the Netherlands, a majority of births are accomplished at home.
Baby Allan (now thirty), one week old
Despite working with a well-known and experienced independent midwife (with physician backup) for my older son’s birth, his positioning and large head led us to need a C-section after forty-eight hours of labor. These are the complicated cases where, unlike in 1888, we are glad for antiseptic procedure and skilled surgeons.
My nine-pound twelve-ounce son (with his sixteen-inch head) was fine. The hospital nurses said they’d never seen such a big head on a newborn. I ended up fine, too, and we nursed as a couple until I became pregnant with Allan’s younger brother two years later.
I had done my homework and I knew second births are usually faster and easier than firsts. We again signed up with an independent midwife for a home birth, also known as VBAC: vaginal birth after Cesarean.
Edith and midwife Miriam Khalsa
To my dismay I experienced two days of vigorous labor just like the first time. I walked the halls. I labored on hands and knees and in a tub. I squatted. My baby was lodged in a transverse (face up) position and nothing was bringing that little guy out, so we were forced to endure another surgery. Imagine my surprise when they said this nine-pound eight-ounce boy’s head measured sixteen and a half inches!
Baby John David (now twenty-eight), a few days old
From my studies, I believe if Rose Carroll had encountered births like these, she would have waited longer, but if the baby showed signs of serious distress, she could have transferred the mother to the new hospital across the river in Newburyport. C-sections were being done by then, and the importance of keeping incisions clean to avoid infections was known.
John David and Allan, with Anna, my goddaughter and their friend for life (who was born at home with a midwife)
Perhaps one of the Quaker Midwife Mysteries will include an emergency C-section. Meanwhile, my second baby also thrived. I am now blessed with two smart, generous, hardworking, thoughtful, handsome, and fun men for sons.
Readers: Want to share your birth story – your own, your child’s, or one you witnessed? Any experience with home birth, or are you squarely in the hospital camp?
Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway (ENDED) for your chance to win one of 2 print copies of Called to Justice
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
National best-selling author Edith Maxwell is a 2017 double Agatha Award nominee for her historical mystery Delivering the Truth and her short story, “The Mayor and the Midwife.” She writes the Quaker Midwife Mysteries and the Local Foods Mysteries; as Maddie Day she writes the Country Store Mysteries and the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries. Her award-winning short crime fiction has appeared in many juried anthologies, and she is honored to served as President of Sisters in Crime New England.
A fourth-generation Californian and former tech writer, farmer, and doula, Maxwell now writes, cooks, gardens, and wastes time as a Facebook addict north of Boston with her beau and three cats. She blogs at WickedCozyAuthors.com, Killer Characters, and with the Midnight Ink authors. Find her at www.edithmaxwell.com and elsewhere.
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