– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘The Gossip’s Choice’ blogtour, organised by Love Books Tour.
To promote this book I have an excerpt, but b
About the Author :
Dr Sara Read is a lecturer in English at Loughborough University. Her research is in the cultural representations of women, bodies and health in the early modern era.
She has published widely in this area with her first book Menstruation and the Female Body in Early Modern England being published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2013.
She is a member of the organising committee of the Women’s Studies Group, 1558-1837 and recently co-edited a special collection produced to celebrate the group’s 30th anniversary.
She is also the co-editor of the popular Early Modern Medicine blog. With founding editor Dr Jennifer Evans, Sara wrote a book about health and disease in this era Maladies and Medicine: Exploring Health and Healing, 1540-1740 (Pen and Sword 2017).
Sara regularly writes for history magazines such as Discover Your Ancestors and History Today. In 2017 she published an article ‘My Ancestor was a Midwife’ tracing the history of the midwifery profession for Who Do You Think You Are? magazine in 2017. She has appeared on BBC Radio 3’s Freethinking programme and is often to be heard on BBC Radio Leicester and BBC Radio WM.
“Call The Midwife for the 17th Century”
Respected midwife Lucie Smith is married to Jasper, the town apothecary. They’ve lived happily together at the shop with the sign of the three doves for almost three decades. But 1665 is proving a troublesome year. Lucie is called to a birth at the local Manor, and Jasper is uneasy at her involvement with their former opponents in the English Civil War. Their only surviving son Simon flees plague-ridden London for his country hometown, only to argue with his father. Lucie is shaken to learn their loyal maid has been keeping a secret, and knows when Jasper finds out he will be furious. How could she have missed the signs?
As the year draws to a close, Lucie is accused of serious negligence in her care of one of her mothers which could see her not only lose her licence but face excommunication.
Peggy Dill the alewife went into labour that very afternoon. Up till now, Peggy had had quite an easy labour for all of her large and robust brood, but with each pregnancy she had become more corpulent, which made Lucie fear things might be different this time. The word that Peggy’s time had come reached Lucie as she strolled back to the Three Doves on her way home from the Pardoes’, for the Dills’ cellar boy met her as she turned into High Street. She asked him to let the Dills know she was on her way and went to the shop to gather her things.
`Mary, make sure to let the butcher know I’ll need a hare skin in the next couple of hours. Alewife Dill won’t take long, I’ll warrant,’ she said as she was making her way out of the door. `Then meet me at the Black Bull. You’ll remember the steps to the living quarters are around the back on the outside and not through the alehouse, which saves you running through the noisy crowd. The drinkers will be making merry with knowing Peggy is labouring above the stairs.’
`The alewife’s in travail again, is she?’ remarked Jasper. `Send word if you need any drafts mixing, for if I remember right, she complains a great deal of her pains.’
`Ha! Yes, she does! One of these days, she’ll bring the alehouse down about our ears! She should thank God for giving her such an easy time of it, compared with so many women.’ Lucie was, of course, thinking about her chat with Isabelle. Having a first-born come breech down would be hard enough without an incompetent midwife adding to her troubles.
Peggy was tramping around her bed-chamber when Lucie arrived, trying to walk the pains away, while all the time drawing heavily on her ever-present clay pipe of tobacco.
`Oh, Mistress Smith, I can’t believe we’re here for this again! I’ll tell you what: if George even thinks to look at me again I’ll chop off his yard with my best kitchen knife. You see if I don’t!’
`From what I’ve heard, Peggy, matters are quite the other way about and you can’t help but jump on the poor man whenever the chance presents!’ one of her gossips remarked.
`Well, a woman needs her due benevolence, ain’t that right, Mistress Smith? And as God knows, working in this alehouse from dawn to dark and raising this endless herd of kids, I’ve little enough time for pleasures out of door.’
`Mother!’ exclaimed Lucy Dill, Peggy’s eldest daughter, now in her teens and acting as a gossip for her mother for the first time.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds