Carole Penfield gives readers a realistic and interesting piece of historical fiction in The Midwife of Normandy. The story opens with Clare, who finds herself in the cargo hold of a ship along with her family. It is the late 1600’s and they are sneaking out of France to England, where Protestants are not persecuted, and she can continue her midwifery practice. We have no idea what preceded her current state of affairs until we are transported back to her youth and the very first day she received her journal. We learn about Clare’s upbringing and the strong tradition of midwifery in her family, along with the history of disapproving husbands. It is not long before Clare herself is ready for training and eventually ready to take over the practice. It is also not long before she acquires a disapproving husband of her own.
Penfield creates a beautiful and flowing story with elements of history, romance, and story-telling brought together by a colorful cast of characters. Clare is a strong female lead, dealing with issues that are timeless. I love that her family has such a passion for helping other women and will stop at nothing to do so. The history behind this story is interesting and lead me to further research, which is one thing I really love about pieces of historical fiction. I thought the author could have included more realistic dialogue to the times, but I understand that just wasn’t the direction she went with this piece.
Her characters are fantastic and add richness to the story, as all good characters do. There are characters with a dark side and those who even it out with some comedy and levity. Penfield is a self-proclaimed lover of Jane Austen and weaves elements of that authors works into her story. She challenges other Austen fans to find little hidden tidbits throughout the story that are Austen-inspired.
The juxtaposition of a personal story of feminine struggle for power and equality with the story of a religious group struggling with the same issue is an interesting one. These are themes that have manifested throughout history and continue to be real struggles so I thought this book felt modern despite its historical setting.
Penfield did a beautiful job with this story. I was entertained and interested throughout and even learned new history! I look forward to reading more books in this series!
Pages: 325 | ASIN: B01M7Q93OO
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What is the meaning of success; titles, money, family, happiness? These are the questions Nata and Karl must face as their life makes dramatic changes from their carefully planned out future. Nata is fostered by working class parents Joe & Hetty, Karl comes from the upper-class elite. Nata’s biological father was abusive to both her and her mother, leading her to fear men, and especially any and all sexual contact. Despite her reservations Karl works his way into her heart and they marry with the intent of living full professional lives that does not include a family. Nata however finds out she is pregnant and together they must figure out how to adjust their life goals and ambitions to this new situation. While battling with his ideals about his personal life, Karl must make some choices about his professional career as a lawyer. Knowing what is right and knowing what you can make a difference with are gray areas when you’re a lawyer dealing with the upper-class elite.
On the surface this book starts off with the story of two people from different worlds coming together to make their relationship work through unplanned events, pregnancy. As the story deepens you see beyond the surface struggles or plans changing, you see the deep wounds that childhood sexual abuse brings; you see the residual effects of emotional abuse and withholding of love and support to a child. It changes the world view, it changes what is important in life. Nata and Karl could be anyone you encounter in the professional world. They are focused on their goals but when life turns things upside down, their struggles to connect and find a path forward are relatable. Unplanned pregnancy, changing life goals of prestige or happy home life, can they all be merged? Karl’s professional life is also dealt a staggering blow. He knows the difference between right and wrong but knows fighting against what is wrong in this case is career suicide. He takes the safe way out to save his career, but it nags at him. He continues to try and find balance between right and wrong.
While Karl is trying to find his way, Nata is trying to make peace with her past and the demons that follow her. It is a realistic view into how sexual abuse continues to hurt people well into adult lives and impact their life decisions. When her baby is born early due to a car accident she is thrust into even more challenging emotions, a premature birth, a child that will have lifelong medical needs, a husband that can’t come to terms with a non-perfect child. Lorraine Cobcroft’s ability to tap into those emotions and the mindset of a new mother experiencing them is profound. So often these things are glossed over for other more comfortable plot lines, however Mortgaged Goods puts these deep emotions and controversial topics right into the forefront of the novel, making them key points.
While the novel starts out looking like it will be a ‘lawyer takes on the corrupt upper tiers of society’ type novel, this book is so much more. Mortgaged Goods by Lorraine Cobcroft tackles deep emotional issues, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, corruption of society, to include law enforcement, judges, and politicians. Through it all though, it is a novel about making a relationship work though the hard times, finding out what is truly important in life, and making the best of what life hands you, even when that is not what you have carefully laid out in your life plans.
Pages: 278 | ASIN: B018ZVWE5O
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Clare Dupres, ambitious young Huguenot midwife living in turbulent 17th century France, struggles to save her family and career from the terrors of tyrannical King Louis XIV.
On the brink of womanhood, she records in her journal the grand plan for her perfect life–marriage to the man she loves, renovation of mysterious Maison Dupres as her home, and a rewarding profession. The key to her plan lies in “the magic elixir,” her ancestors’ secret formula for pain-free childbirth, which she offers solely to wealthy aristocratic women.
But King Louis’ increasing pressure on Huguenots to convert to Catholicism shatters Clare’s dreams. Her lover forced to flee France, she is compelled to marry his boring brother. Then she is banned from practicing midwifery. Yearning to continue her profession coupled with fear that her children will be kidnapped by Papists, Clare tries to convince her stubborn husband to move to England, but he is blind to the growing menace. When danger lurks in the form of the King’s dreaded Dragonnade soldiers, she must summon all her strength and determination to save her family.
Can Clare succeed in getting her family safely out of France before it is too late?
Posted in book trailer
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Just Another Girl’s Story is a memoir about finding redemption. Why was this an important book for you to write?
This was an important book for me to write because far too many people let their past mistakes define who they are in the present. Too many people from all walks of life live with shame and guilt. Unfortunately for many, they exasperate their turmoil into further problems by not releasing their past. Such as addictions, severe depression and unhealthy relationships with others. I wrote my story to offer hope. I also wrote it to testify how my relationship with Jesus was the only way I could move on and find redemption.
This book recounts some harrowing events in your life, but the title of the book is Just Another Girl’s Story. Why did you choose this as the title?
I choose this title because of an experience I had when dining with friends. Shortly before publishing my book, I had quite a few titles I was kicking around. Then one evening I was out for dinner with five women, all of us are Catholic. I was asked about my upcoming book, and I revealed some of the content. Two of the women abruptly stated that they too had abortions. After I got home that evening, I pondered our discussion and realized that out of six women at our table, 1/2 of us had an abortion. I realized that I am “just another girl” that has experienced abortion; thus shame and guilt.
I appreciated how you were willing to tell both the good and bad aspects of your life choices. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?
My abortion experiences were the most difficult to write about. When I wrote the outline for my book; I did not know if I would be able to reach the level of detail I felt the reader would need to have to understand my journey. Most especially my abortion experiences. At first, I thought I needed to spend most of my time writing about when I was physically at Planned Parenthood. I even went to the Planned Parenthood in Milwaukee to ask for my records. When I was told they did not have them anymore (they only need to keep records for 7-10 years) – I was devasted. I didn’t write for a while after that day, as I believed I had to have those records to validate my experience. When I finally began writing again, I asked God to help me retrieve the details of what I needed to provide the reader an understanding of my experiences. As I began typing, it was as if God was at the keyboard typing the words as I relived those two days at Planned Parenthood. God gave me exactly what I needed, and I recalled many things I had buried long ago. I cried many tears as I re-read what was typed and I marveled once again at how God is so powerful and how I could not have written my story without Him by my side.
What is one thing that you hope readers take away from this book?
I hope and pray that readers suffering from shame and guilt; regardless of reasons – can find inspiration to reach forgiveness and redemption. I hope readers take away the adage that you do not have to let your past mistakes define who you become and how you live today.
Laura confesses, “I was spending so much time grieving the loss of my two aborted babies; all the while taking for granted that God gave me two more that were alive and standing right in front of me”
At the tender and problematic ages of 16 and 17, Laura Eckert twice found herself as a patient at an abortion clinic, after her parents had discovered that she was pregnant. Addicted to sex and an overindulging in alcohol while maintaining an unhealthy desire for isolation and coping with deep depression, Laura didn’t understand the link between her problems until she was in her thirties, when she was finally able to accept them for what they were. Then, her pursuit of redemption for what she did became relentless, as she tackled the dark humiliation she had endured, eventually finding peace within a loving family of her own.
Now, in her book, Just Another Girl’s Story, Laura relives those traumatic teenage experiences in an honest and genuine teen autobiography that many will find shocking, harrowing and provocative, and yet implores sympathy and holds the reader spellbound at the same time. Read about her plight and her path to finding the peace and healing that she craved, as she tackles controversial topics of teen abortion, teen pregnancy, teen drinking and alcoholism and sex addiction.
Perhaps you will be inspired to find your own peace within Laura’s story.
Posted in Interviews
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Pink Slips is a riveting tale of one woman’s desperate plight to keep her loved ones safe, even in the sights of a mysterious stalker. What served as the inspiration that made you want to write this suspenseful novel?
Fourteen years ago I was home alone with my newborn baby when I received a violent anonymous phone call. Flash forward to this year… I was working on a writing prompt asking to recount “receiving an anonymous phone call or note”. I instantly was transported to that frightful night. The story evolved as I fueled the idea with the “remembered fear” I experienced that night. I imagine that many women have had a similar scary situation, which made me think it would be a relatable story.
I found Betsy to be a very well written and in depth character. What was your inspiration for her and her emotional turmoil in the story?
Betsy is modeled after me in some ways. I have some of the little habits that she has, including talking to her dog as if Barney understood her. I’m confident my two Tibetan Terriers understand every word I say! I fueled some of my fears and concerns for safety into her persona, however the violence she experiences is completely fictional. Like Betsy, I’ve had my share of pregnancy issues, giving me authentic experiences to draw upon. My marriage is very happy, whereas Betsy’s needs some work! The emotional turmoil within Betsy grew with her characterization. At first she was just a victim of a parking lot mugging, but as the story developed, she gets pummeled in every chapter. Once I read a article about writing, where it said, “…happy stories are boring… add conflict where you can.” I throw a lot at Betsy, but as the story progresses, so does her strength and belief in herself; so I guess the conflict was needed in my manuscript.
What were some themes that you felt were important to highlight in this book?
The key theme in the book was shining the light on women’s safety in an information-sharing world. Nowadays, you can learn so much about people through social media, everyday forms we fill out, and even in medical offices. I’ve always tried to teach my children the importance of security, but this book highlights how we are all vulnerable. Another theme in the story, focuses on humans special contact with their pets. They are a part of our family and they rely on us. It’s only natural that there’s a mutual love and respect between us. Another theme is being “open” to your own intuition. We all have it (especially pregnant women), yet are often too busy, moving, talking, and “doing” every day, that we don’t always take the time to “listen”. There’s a lot to learn in silence.
Are there any emotions or memories from your own life that you put into Betsy’s life?
One emotion Betsy shares with me is the intense pain and sadness from losing a pregnancy. No one can understand that feeling unless they experience it. A memory that I share with Betsy is time spent in the kitchen with “Grandma”. I grew up loving food, cooking, and learning from both of my Grandmas. I studied pastry at Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago, so it felt natural to make Betsy an expert chef. She has much more working experience than I have, however I did publish a healthy living and eating book (Real Moms Love to Eat; Penguin/NAL, 2012), whereas Betsy hasn’t written her book yet, but I don’t put anything past her… I bet she will publish a cookbook soon 🙂
Betsy Ryan is pregnant with her third child, and receiving threatening notes from an anonymous person. During what should be a joyful time in her life, she’s forced to face a decade old memory, and relive one of the most devastating nights of her life.
To uncover the mystery behind the threats, she enlists the help of an unlikely, but oddly reliable source, her dog Barney. As the menacing notes continue to arrive, her husband is still out of town for work, and she struggles to keep her composure while shielding her two young sons from danger. She trusts no one except her parents, best friend Misty, and her extraordinary dog—who has proven to literally understand everything she says. Is this person out to harm her? And how do they have so much personal information about Betsy? She can’t help but think it’s the same person who attacked her at the train station almost a decade ago, and changed the course of her life forever. To save herself and her unborn child—Betsy must face her fears and find her strength, to reveal who is after her and most importantly…why.
Posted in Interviews
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