(Author: Jodi Daynard) + (Year: 2015) + (Goodreads)
First and foremost, I would like to say how impressed I am by all the research Ms Daynard did writing this book. I read the Author’s Note at the end and I realized that she really worked hard to get all of the details right. I wish other writers were half as dedicated, then we would not be suffocated by tons of literature that makes no sense.
However, I must say that it is possible I made a mistake choosing to read and review this book. I have never been entirely taken by fiction set in a certain period in the past which does not actually belong to the period. If I’m not making myself clear enough: Pride and Prejudice – YAY! It depicts the same period in which the author lived and therefore there is nothing forced in her narrative and way of writing; The Midwife’s Revolt, though the product of deep research, is still a contemporary novel which falls to the genre of historical fiction. See, the difference is that I know that the author did not live in that period and no matter her amount of research, the events and the social conditions that she describes can still be argued because they are, of course, not witnessed.
Sadly, this book did not do it for me. It was expectedly dull to read about milking the cows and having nothing to talk about after dinner around the fire. I, of course, did not expect that that would be what’s going on, especially seeing the title. And the said “revolt” was wildly blown out of proportion. Maybe for the period such actions would have been strange or highly unusual, but from modern point of view, usage of the word “revolt” leads to expectations of much bigger actions.
I could certainly not connect with any of the characters. Not being American, and definitely not being a supporter of THE Cause or any other political cause, for that matter, there was nothing in the characters for me to feel close to. Lizzie’s big agenda was not to fight for her own rights, but mostly to support the Cause, which capital letter and all, seemed a bit like the result of some serious brain-washing. Had this book been set in, say, North Korea, the characters would have been the subject of much scrutiny. I expect that because it’s set in America, they should be glorified. Just because.
I don’t think it’s an issue that every nation sees their country as a magical place if that’s what the nation wants. But the events in this book seemed petty in contrast to the way the above-mentioned revolt is being marketed. There was neither much of a physical revolt, nor was there any revolt of the mind. There was the Cause. Follow the Cause. Support the Cause. You are the Cause. Though if you are a woman, you can be the Cause by helping your man be the Cause.
And every time I thought “YES! She is finally going to fight for her own rights and her own place in the Cause!”, it was just turned into a sappy romantic moment. Woman gets kissed, woman gets drunk because of a man, woman faints because she is worried because of the man, woman cries because of the man. I didn’t mention Pride and Prejudice randomly above, The Midwife’s Revolt is the American attempt of Pride and Prejudice, with a splash of a revolution. Mr Darcy seems a bit shady and disagreeable at first, but then it turns out all he ever wanted was to help and never meant Lizzie any harm. Lizzie. Yes. And at the end, even though it’s the midwife’s revolt, Mr Darcy is the hero.