Gripping new historical fiction THE FROZEN RIVER
The Frozen River by #ArielLawhon is a satisfying, historical portrayal of Martha Ballard, one of the most audacious midwives in US history. Ariel Lawhon has a gift for finding true stories of brave women and bringing them to life in her books. The Frozen River is a slight change because Lawhon must develop much of the background for her story from her imagination. She based the character on a real woman, who worked as a midwife during the late 1790s after the American Revolution. Martha Ballard was the only midwife in Maine during the 18th century to keep a written record of her work. She is also an ancestor of Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, and great-great-grandmother of Mary Hobart, one of the first female physicians in the US! Martha kept a journal of her life recording the people she helped and some local events. Lawhon was able to take actual events of history with the horrific assault of a local woman by a prominent judge and weave a story around it. The writing is compelling, horrifying in detail about midwifery of the 1790s and also poignant in the portrayal of the travails of women and mothers. I only have one living child, but the passages about losing a child are hauntingly beautiful. I think the power of Martha’s story is in her fiery spirit and determination to care for women and stand up to brutality. I loved the richness of Lawhon’s writing whether describing a majestic silver fox who appears to Martha, or the savory stew of the local pub. This is a phenomenal book and I think Martha is the kind of woman I would have loved to meet. Thanks to
Netgalley and the publisher Doubleday for the advance e-galley.