Thursday, May 9, 2013

Book Review and Giveaway: The Midwife's Revolt by Jodi Daynard



Welcome to the next stop on the review tour for The Midwife’s Revolt by Jodi Daynard.

Title: The Midwife's Revolt
Author: Jodi Daynard
Publisher: Opossum Press
Publication Date: January 1, 2013
Source: e-copy received from Novel Publicity tours for an honest review

Book Description:
The Midwife’s Revolt takes the reader on a journey to the founding days of America. It follows one woman’s path, Lizzie Boylston, from her grieving days of widowhood after Bunker Hill, to her deepening friendship with Abigail Adams and midwifery, and finally to her dangerous work as a spy for the Cause. A novel rich in historical detail, The Midwife’s Revolt opens a window onto the real lives of colonial women.

Jodi Daynard’s historical fiction The Midwife’s Revolt has eared a 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon and praise from libraries, historical associations and is even featured at The Museum of the American Revolution.

“A charming, unexpected, and decidedly different view of the Revolutionary War.”
—Publishers Weekly

“This humorous, exciting and touching story retells the familiar saga of the Revolutionary War in a stunning new way that feels fresh and alive.”
—Kirkus Reviews


My Review:
I used to read a LOT of historical fiction--I got especially hooked on the Tudors a few years ago, but after a while I felt a little burnt out in that genre.  However, lately I've been hankering to get back into it, and when I saw The Midwife's Revolt offered as a Novel Publicity tour, I couldn't resist.

This was a new foray for me in historical fiction, because I've never read anything in that genre focusing on the Revolutionary War.  This time period has always been interesting for me though, because I grew up right down the street from a Revolutionary War battlefield (where the Battle of Groton Heights was fought in Connecticut).  Also (coincidentally enough), last weekend my husband, Small Fry, and I discovered the Saratoga National Battlefield not a far drive from our house--and the Battle of Freeman's Farm (located there) is actually mentioned in The Midwife's Revolt!  So I was pretty fascinated by all the real-life history around me as I read this novel.
Saratoga National Battlefield (photo courtesy saratoga.com)
(And you're thinking, okay, great Kel, what about the book?)

The Midwife's Revolt does precisely what you want a historical fiction novel to do--it leaves you wondering where the fact ends and the fiction begins.  The protagonist, Lizzie Boylston, is surrounded by notable figures of the Revolution that you will surely recognize--John Adams, George Washington, Abigail Adams, etc.  The novel's central focus is on Lizzie and her personal journey throughout the war, but her interactions with these famous patriots lends the strong historical background that gives this novel its strength.  As a reader, I was constantly wondering how much of Lizzie's story (and the stories of those around her) were true, which kept me on my toes and wanting to turn the page.  (I won't spoil it for you, but rest assured that Daynard does make some notes at the end to let you know what was fact, and what was fiction.  Some of it is quite surprising!)

The storyline is complex; Lizzie goes through a lot in the many years that the novel covers, so it's quite epic in scope.  Despite this complexity, the novel never loses its feel of historical accuracy.  It's clear that Daynard did meticulous research to make sure that the book was fitting for the political and social customs of the period.  At times I will say it felt a little "textbookish"...there was so much historical detail, sometimes not interspersed with much personal dialogue, that it occasionally toed the line towards feeling like a nonfiction article.  This also led to the characters sometimes seeming a little flat, as it felt like they were trying too hard to be historically "true".  However, the movement of the plot always eventually got back on track, and Lizzie's story shone through.

Overall, I think The Midwife's Revolt is a good choice if you're looking for a historical fiction fix--especially if you have particular interest in the Revolutionary War.  History buffs will be impressed, and fiction fiends will enjoy the mysteries that Lizzie uncovers, as well as her personal struggles as a woman attempting to help the Rebel cause.  Lizzie certainly has a force of passion that makes her a unique character for this time period, and that alone should be a draw for many readers.

About the Author: Jodi Daynard is a writer of fiction, essays, and criticism. Her work has appeared in numerous periodicals, including The New York Times Book Review, The Village Voice, The Paris Review, Agni, New England Review and in several anthologies. She is the author of The Place Within: Portraits of the American Landscape by 20 Contemporary Writers (W. W. Norton). Ms. Daynard’s essays have been nominated for several prizes and mentioned in Best American Essays. She has taught writing at Harvard University, M.I.T., and in the MFA program at Emerson College, and served for seven years as Fiction Editor at Boston Review. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle, The National Women’s Book Association, and the Author’s Guild. The Midwife’s Revolt is her first novel.

Prizes! Who doesn’t love awesome book themed gifts?  Jodi is offering A Kindle Fire to one reader as well as a Artemis Cameo Necklace, an American Flag Folk Art and a $25 Amazon Gift Card.  All you have to do is leave a comment and enter the Rafflecopter (below).  Of course, there are plenty of other ways to enter to win just by helping spread the word about The Midwife’s Revolt.

a Rafflecopter giveaway The Tour: Follow along and read more reviews of The Midwife’s Revolt.  You can see the full list of participating reviews HERE.

16 comments:

  1. This is an awesome review! Thank you so much for posting!

    ~marie borthwick, novel publicity

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  2. I'm a big fan of historical fiction but I haven't read many things (any?) set during the Revolutionary War. I need to fix that!

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    1. I don't even know if I've really encountered any other HF Revolutionary War era novels! Definitely makes this one unique.

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  3. I love this giveaway. I also love historical fiction. It honestly makes me want to learn as much about a subject as possible, and I think that historical fiction can teach a lot. It's a great learning tool that keeps you entertained, and the majority of the time, the books make me want to research the subject to find out what was true.

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    1. I totally agree. I find myself on Wikipedia for HOURS anytime I read a historical fiction novel!!

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    2. That's funny, I do this, too!

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  5. This book is incredible! I'm a big historical fiction fan and I think that's in part thanks to Philippa Gregory. After reading her Tudor/Boleyn books, I took off running with the genre!

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    1. Same here! I burnt out on them after a while (I've learned it's best for me not to read them all in a row) but I love throwing them into my reading lineup once in a while.

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  6. Will have to get this one for the library!

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    1. Definitely recommend! Lots to learn from this one.

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  7. Great review! I don't much about the war and feel I should...

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    1. I often feel like I should know more, especially since it basically happened in my backyard...

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  8. I have a thing for books that feature midwifery, and throw in some Revolution and I'm down. Great review!

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    1. Thanks! I agree re: midwifery, that was what drew me to the title in the first place. Especially given the historical period!

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