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Midwife of the Blue Ridge Paperback – 5 Aug 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 420 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group; 1 edition (5 Aug 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425221687
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425221686
  • Product Dimensions: 14.1 x 2.3 x 20.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,835,064 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ruth King on 6 Nov 2008
Format: Paperback
As the sole survivor of a vicious attack on her village, Maggie Duncan is viewed by many in Black Corries, Scotland as a harbinger of bad luck. But Hannah Cameron, grateful to young Maggie for bringing her mortally wounded husband home to her, adopts the young girl. Hannah is a midwife and she soon teaches her healing skills to Maggie.

After Hannah's death, Maggie finds herself in a difficult position. The people of Black Corries are very superstitious and blame her for Hannah's death. Believing that Maggie possesses the "evil eye", most of the villagers steer clear of her. When she's offered a chance to sail to America to become an indentured servant, Maggie quickly agrees. Four years of work as an indentured servant seems a small price to pay for the promise of a new start in colonial America.

But the New World holds new dangers for Maggie. As settlers venture deeper into Indian territory, unrest grows within the local tribes. Indian raids are a constant threat. Illness can claim a person's life swiftly, something Maggie is acutely aware of in her work as a midwife.

Along with the danger comes opportunity. Maggie's skills as both a midwife and a healer are invaluable to the community. And when Tom Roberts, a vagabond hunter, starts to show romantic interest in Maggie, she begins to dream of a free life with him. Soon, however, Maggie will find her courage to survive in this new world tested as never before.

The Midwife of Blue Ridge is certainly a page-turner, but I found myself disappointed with several elements of the story. The crude language used throughout really distracted me from the main storyline. There were detailed descriptions of men urinating, numerous references to flatulence, etc. that I felt added little to the story.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 56 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Just OK 2 Oct 2008
By HHK - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed this book. It was not great but not bad either. I really enjoy books with strong female protagonists who survive despite the odds, and the heroine here fits the bill. I also liked that this was primarily historical with the love story woven in, not a typical historical romance.

That said, I think the romance element was weak. It was clear from the first moment Maggie saw Tom that she was going to fall in love with him. He is the typical bad boy who does not want to settle down. Absolutely zero romantc tension. However this not a primary romance novels, so I am not sure if I should complain.

I agree with some of the other reviewers that the rape scene and whipping were gratuitous and were not absolutely needed to show how grim Maggie's ordeal was. I did enjoy the Midwifery/herbal healer parts.

Not a bad way to pass your time. Not an earth shatteringly great read either.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
A Best Ever Book of Colonial America 28 Aug 2009
By Jim Duggins, Ph.D. - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
One of the pleasures reserved for a reading addict is the discovery of a book that is so good, so perfect, so satisfying that you can't stop thinking about it. AND, if it's a debut novel that you wish YOU had written, it's all the more awesome. Christine Blevins's book, "Midwife of the Blue Ridge" was/is just that kind of book for me. This historical novel is the saga of an 18th century Scotswoman who comes to America as an indentured servant. Because she is very beautiful and intelligent (a practicing healer and midwife) she is plagued by a Stephen King-type monster and loved by a colonial version of Tom Cruz. Is that enough conflict, or what?

Maggie Duncan's adventure in Colonial America began aboard a ship whose primary cargo was African Slaves and Indentured Servants. As luck had it, Maggie for her intelligence and winning ways narrowly escaped the clutches of a verifiable British sadist and ersatz nobleman, Lord Cavendish. Cavendish lives on to haunt the rest of Maggies' days as well as those of her handsome paramour, Tom Roberts.

"Midwife of the Blue Ridge" includes positive and negative interaction between European migrants and Indigenous peoples (Shawnee and Cherokee) with revelations of cruelty and humanity on both sides.

Of particular note is the skillful way author Blevins uses Scottish terminology and brogue, sometimes interspersed with Irish, in ways that are easily understood and authenticate the book's time and place. One is astounded, too, by author Blevens's knowldege of Colonial period medicine and skills at "baby catching" (midwifery) -- her understanding of homeopathic cures both European and Native American in the 8th century is awe-inspiring.

In a book of this size it was a joy to experience, first hand, the sights and sounds, the smells and touch of people and places: a great novel, all show, very little tell.

There are so many things to recommend about "Midwife of the Blue Ridge," I can only mention a few and assure there are dozens of delightful things still to discover. Blevins's sketches of people are wonderfully quick and powerful, e.g., "Standing far left of the crowd of bachelors, dusty and grimy Tom Roberts pushed his hat back, leaned on his rifle, and smiled through a scruffy beard. His faded blue shirt was ringed with salt stains and dark with sweat. In his right hand he cupped a leather sack heavy with coin. Maggie restained an urge to run to him, happier at that moment than she could ever remember being in her whole life." Another indication of Ms. Blevins's skill is shown in the short pieces of sentences that capture your mind with a quick metaphor or simile. ""Sick baby and dire threat of Indian attack combined with exhaustion to concoct a stressful brew of frayed nerves and short tempers." . . . "Maggie flailed about like a trout tossed up on the bank." . . . "She could feel the fabric rougher than a cow's tongue, pricking her skin right through her sweaty shift."

Furthermore, her characters are not cardboard, rather they're well-defined, with credible motives and histories that explain how they got the way they are. Because one knows them so well one cares about them and what can happen to them. In the same fashion, one also cannot resist "hissing" the villains and wishing for their punishment.

The love story of the novel is that of Maggie and Tom -- Maggie is early on quite in love but feels she cannot commit herself to anything bcause of her legal indenture. Tom, whose living has been made as a fur hunter, always homeless, always on the move, has never known the emotional turmoil of love, nor dealt with the concept of settling down with one woman.

If your reading time budget is stretched and you can choose only one book to start now, make it Christine Blevins's "Midwife of the Blue Ridge." You won't go wrong.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
View from afar 11 Sep 2008
By Amy C - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Although educational insights into the struggles of colonial frontier life, this book lacks depth. The plot moves as plot does, without insight into the characters' psychological motives or even an emotional connection to each other -- I anticipated these, along with a sense of character development, given the horrific events that occur. However, it's a simplified read, but did not engage me as I had truly hoped. This story had such potential, but it lacked the power that others of this genre have. It was as if looking down upon the story from afar.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Bland 11 Oct 2008
By Reader 200 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I picked this book up because I have several times heard it compared to Diane Gabaldon's Outlander series. And it is true that there are many similiarities. The heroine is a healer who lives in the latter part of the 1700's (no time travel). She is originally from Scotland and makes her home in the frontier of colonial America. Like Gabaldon's books there is also plenty of rape, disturbingly graphic torture, general mayhem, and other details of colonial life.

However if I am to continue the comparison, Blevin's book is a bland imitation of Gabaldon.

The writing style itself is not very interesting. At times it felt clunky.

The story pretty much hits every cliche possible. The heroine is pursued by an evil british lord who wants to rape her. She is also pursued by a white man turned American Indian - he appears to want a little more than rape, although he goes there as well. There are people with missing scalps, lumbering idiots, friendships with kindly slaves, land that must be saved from the evil overlord, etc., etc.

The real problem is that there isn't anything new or surprising in the story. From beginning to end I could pretty much predict what was going to happen. And then it did.

So while this isn't necessarily a badly written or badly told story, it also has nothing to make it stand out as particularly interesting.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful historical novel set in Colonial Virginia 4 Sep 2008
By C. Anderson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In 1746 the battle of Culloden in the Scottish Highlands nearly wiped out the Highland Clans. This is the story of Maggie Duncan. At seven years old she was the sole survivor when her village was destroyed by the English army because the villagers had aided the Highlanders. She is able to escape and then helps a mortally wounded soldier find his way home. Luckily for Maggie the soldier's wife is a midwife and she adopts Maggie, raises and educates her while passing along her healing skills.

When she is twenty-one Maggie's foster mother dies and with her goes Maggie's protection from the neighbors. They look on her as cursed since she survived when everyone else in her village perished in the attack. They are cruel and narrow minded, so she is unable to make a living for herself since the locals will not accept her as a healer. Eventually she decides to start fresh in America and sells herself as an indentured servant in order to obtain passage on a ship.

Upon arrival in Virginia, the ship's captain sells at auction the four year bonds for each passenger he has brought over. Maggie narrowly avoids being bought by an arrogant, drunken nobleman who has made the passage on the same boat. She is bought by a frontiersman, Seth, who lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains with his wife and children. He desperately needs help as his wife is ill and pregnant and physically unable to cope with frontier life. For Seth, Maggie is the answer to a prayer.

Maggie fits in well with Seth's family and the other settlers in that area of the Blue Ridge Mountains. She is smart and skilled and she quickly starts to learn the medical uses of the local plants. But just when everything seems to be going well, disaster strikes and she must use all of her wits to survive.

This is a terrific, enthralling story of frontier life in colonial Virginia. The characters were compelling (or repulsive, as the case may be) and the settings were wonderfully described. I loved the balanced depiction of the Native Americans of the time, showing them from their own point of view as well as an outsider's. I also loved that the author peppered the text with Scottish words. They were easily defined by the context but I had a great time looking up their meanings (ie: sclim=climb, swither=to be uncertain or hesitate). A really well done historical novel. I'm looking forward to future books by this author!
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