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Rises from Humble Beginnings

Carole Penfield Author Interview

Carole Penfield Author Interview

Midwife of Normandy follows young Clare as she struggles to save her family and career from France’s tyrannical king. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?

An avid fan of history, I researched 17th century religious persecution of Huguenots by King Louis XIV and was surprised how few historical fiction novels had been set during this turbulent period (as opposed to numerous novels set in other times, like Tudor England.) I also noted that many historical fiction authors focused on women of royal or aristocratic blood as protagonists.

I wanted to do something different, so I created a Huguenot female protagonist, who rises from humble beginnings and dares to defy and outwit male authority, including the King’s soldiers.

After visiting Rouen and the beautiful countryside of Normandy, I felt certain this was the perfect location for my book.

I didn’t think being a midwife could be so interesting and this novel definitely caused me to look more into the profession. Why did you choose this profession for Clare in the story?

Let’s face facts; there weren’t many professional options available to 17th century women. It was widely held that their only proper role was marriage, absolute obedience to husbands, and bearing of children. Midwifery was almost exclusively performed by females, but was looked upon as a lowly trade.

In order to rise above her humble beginnings, Clare decides to offer her services, using a secret ancestral formula for pain-free birth, exclusively to wealthy members of the aristocracy who reward her handsomely, thereby turning midwifery into a lucrative profession.

Clare is a fascinating character that continued to develop as the story progressed. What were some themes you wanted to capture in Clare’s character?

Throughout history, women have struggled against many prejudices. What I set out to achieve was to create a strong, ambitious young woman who sought to control her own destiny. In a sense, Clare was an early pioneer for female equality in 17th century France, as she sought a career. However, she knew she was also obligated to marry in order to bear a female child to carry on her ancestral midwifery heritage.

At first, dewy-eyed young Clare is disappointed when her romantic childhood sweetheart leaves the country and she is coerced into marrying his older, dull brother. However, she turns out to be much stronger than her husband, even to the point of secretly using birth control until she decides the time is right for bearing children. And she is the one who must bravely plot their escape from France.

Another minor theme is the conflict a career woman faces between spending time with her children and working outside the home. A feeling of guilt. This balancing act continues through the present day, so it is a universal, contemporary theme.

What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?

The second novel in the series, Lucina’s Destiny, is now available on It follows the exciting adventures of Clare and her family as they settle in England.

Author Links: Website | GoodReads

Midwife of Normandy (Secrets of the Austen Midwives Book 1) by [Penfield, Carole, Lady, A]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?

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The Three Lives of One

The Three Lives of One by [Mooney, Lesley]

A massive tsunami destroys the island home of a little girl. Left without a family, she is rescued by missionaries who name her ‘Patchula’ or ‘Patches’ and take her to Darwin, Australia. What follows is a story of misfortune and tragedy; adoption, death, abuse, forced prostitution, but also of hope as Patches finds joy and meaning, especially in her talent for photography and singing, in spite of the pain. Spanning Australia, America and Japan The Three Lives of One by Lesley J. Mooney is a sweeping tale which carries us across time and continents in search of love and fulfillment.

The book is written in beautiful yet un-flowery prose which is at times poetic. Mooney conjures up place incredibly well, and I found the movement between different continents particularly fascinating –the depiction of the sights, sounds and geography of these places gave me total wanderlust! The description of the tsunami and the wreckage and devastation that follows is extremely affecting and pulled me into the narrative immediately. Mooney is also skilled at portraying her time periods, which begin in the 1920s and move to the 1980s, and the changing biases and turbulent politics of the times.

There are many themes running through the narrative including womanhood, nature and environment, religion, the importance of family, and the value of keeping faith and resilience in times when despair seems never-ending. Although many terrible events occur in Patchula’s life, the book is ultimately about hope in the face of the unknown and what we can achieve if we have the strength to carry on.

Mooney has written a large and diverse cast of characters, and the world she has developed seems utterly real. Patches in particular leaps off the page as a fully-formed individual. Some of the mistreatment she endures is quite harrowing and difficult to read, but it feels very honest. Her hardships elicit great empathy in the reader; I was constantly rooting for her to overcome all of the tragedy in her life and felt completely invested in her development. The more peripheral characters are also well-drawn and prove to be quite emotive, some invoking feelings of intense anger!

One aspect of the book that bothered me slightly was the pacing. We are introduced to Patchula’s predicament, and the narrative subsequently moves very swiftly through the first part of her life and I would have liked this introduction to the story to be slightly more drawn out. Despite this, the rest of the book has a really good tempo, and because there are so many unexpected twists and turns I was always eager to find out what would happen next in Patches’ story.

This book moved me to tears, but it also gave me a great sense of hope. I finished it feeling as though I had been on a long journey–and an extremely rewarding one at that.

Pages: 361 | ASIN: B074M3LW12

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Beasts and Savages

Beasts and Savages (The Beastly Series Book 1)4 Stars“Ally : Thank you for awakening the imagination I thought I had lost”, a noble expression of gratitude from Emma Woods about her book Beasts and Savages, which is a narrative far from lost imagination. The intriguing science fiction novel retells the story of aging into womanhood from a wild perspective and the choices and struggles that come with it. The book juxtaposes girls having periods as their initiation into a life of childbearing, to the animalistic female being ushered into breeding. In the idealistic feminist world however, praises were limited to those who bore girl babies. Men were savages who were just used for procreation but otherwise left to their own devices. Girls were trained to embrace the social structure or face the consequences of rejecting it.

Lea Corre was only 16 years old when she started her change, her first period. Although to her mother, grandmother and nana, she was a ‘late bloomer’; having had theirs at 14 and as early as 12. This moment was a great lead in to Lea’s story, it instantly grabbed my attention and was the pivotal/symbolic point of the remainder of the story . Seemingly somewhat shrouded in secrecy, the facts known about ‘changing’ to Lea, were few and far between, having only being partially enlightened by her friend Lucille; who took the rest of her truths and secrets about ‘changings’ to an early self induced grave. Lea learned much more than she ever had in just a matter of days about changing, breeding class and a revealing sleepover with classmates, saw to it.

Ms. Dawning, gave Lea her official welcome to breeding class, but it was Rally who made a lasting impression on Lea. Classmates like Rally, Beth, May, Susie and the twins added to the population of girls that faced the changes like Lea would, but each represented their own circumstance with a great individuality in the situations that faced them all. Ms. Dawning represented the authority of the status quo, ideology that dared not be questioned; a constant in all the girl’s lives. Lea was driven however, and had her own ideas of what her life should be and a chilling revelation from her mother would confirm her convictions, as she struggled with the questions of nature versus nurture.

A civilization surrounded by wilderness mirrored the themes of resistance and authority and represented an identity clash of sorts. The idea of running from it surfaced as a road to freedom for Lea. Her choices took her on a journey of revelation, and ironically the wilderness and ‘savages’ like Tanner, Flynn and Miller taught her greater lessons than places she once considered civilization. She learned that she could not escape authority as she learned about karma, Locke and love. She even had to teach a few savages about things she had expected they already knew, but it was a savage that taught her something very profound; that her society used her body changings, as signs of readiness, for things she was not mentally prepared for. Lea’s resistance of a dictated lifestyle was greater than a feeling, for her it happened to be genes deep, and in the end, the overwhelming message was one of survival, against nature and odds, as beasts and savages came to learn about each other and themselves.Buy Now From

Pages: 260 | ISBN: 1517123844

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