• Shae Bryant

Review: The Popish Midwife


Annelisa Christensen's novel "The Popish Midwife" is a page-turning transport into seventeenth-century England. A headstrong seventeenth-century midwife entangles herself in a plot against Royalty that twists and turns until you aren't sure if there's a happy ending or not!


I'll be honest, I like happy endings. But I know novels based on fact don't always have such a thing. I picked up "The Popish Midwife" because I'm the daughter of a retired Nurse who once worked Labor and Delivery. I thought it would be a fun look into old midwifery practices. Boy, was I ever wrong!


Sure, the book has quite a bit of that sprinkled throughout, but the book itself focuses on Elizabeth Cellier. She is a midwife and woman of high status who cares for more than just expectant Mothers. When Elizabeth discovers the torture of prisoners who have been imprisoned for nothing more than their Catholic faith, she jumps into action.


Elizabeth and a friend employ a devilishly handsome prisoner, they uncover a plot against the King himself. But, betrayal looms over poor Elizabeth and she finds herself on trial. Her sharp tongue and wit sees her acquitted and out of the horrible prison. Things don't end there. Elizabeth takes her story to the masses, and finds herself in prison again for writing the truth. What happens to Elizabeth and her family after that? I guess you'll have to read it and find out. Annelisa Christensen begins the book by taking you deep into seventeenth century London. The language used and colorful descriptions of London's dirty streets reaches from the pages and drags you into the scenery. The moment you are in, Christensen horrifies you by a gory description of ancient midwifery practices that almost always resulted in the death of Mother and child. That's where I almost stopped.


Not because of the midwifery. No. I loved that part. After that, I felt like the story wasn't quite grabbing me. I thought that the incident at the beginning of the book somehow tied into the plot itself, but it didn't. And I felt that things moved a little slow afterwards. Am I glad I kept turning the pages!


Once the slow part ends, the book becomes a whirlwind of plots, twists, turns and left me giong "NOW WHAT!?" Every time I thought our lovely "Lizzie" had triumphed, something else happened that left me turning the pages. "The Popish Midwife" is a lovely piece of historical fiction that I enjoyed reading. I highly recommend you pick it up for yourself. You can find out where to get it on Goodreads.