In 1888, a Massachusetts a mill town, known for its carriage industry, is subject to a vicious fire. Soon after the son of a factory owner is stabbed to death with a knitting needle.
The main character is Rose Carroll, who is a Quaker midwife. She is a charming heroine and I can easily see how she can be the center of The Quaker Midwife Series.
Being a midwife, Rose moves many circles in town, and the police officers purposefully asks her to keep her eyes and ears open, but Rose would have done so anyway; she is curious by nature. Through Rose midwifery, we meet high and low and see behind the façade of the individual households. As the knitting needle used in the murder is Rose’s own, her incentive to solve the crimes is high.
I found the introduction to Quaker society to be a wonderful frame for the novel. The Society of Friends with their simple lifestyle and vows of peace and compassion balance the horrible crimes. That said, Rose isn’t a “goody two-shoes”. She has her challenges with her belief, especially since she is seeing a handsome doctor, who isn’t a Quaker.
The lives shown, give an interesting picture in time of working women. Rose is a spinster and has her own business. Rose’s niece, Faith, works in a mill to supplement her father’s income after her mother’s death. Yet, there are other, rich and poor, where the women of the household don’t work.
I complement Edith Maxwell in her seamless use of a historical persona in “Delivering the Truth”. John Greenleaf Whittier is Rose’s advisor and friend, and he has more than a cameo appearance. The beauty is that Edith Maxwell fits him in so well. It is obvious that she has a great knowledge of him and his work.
In furtherance, Edith Maxwell’s historical knowledge also deserves comment. Every detail in “Delivering the Truth” is obviously researched and yet she doesn’t stumble in the known pitfalls of too much historical description. There is the right amount of detail to paint the mill town and its inhabitant, and still leave a little of the coloring to the reader.
The Quaker Midwife Series is definitely one to keep a lookout for.
Advanced reader’s copy provided via NetGalley.