The Midwife

Tricia Cresswell

17 February 2022
352 pages


A haunting and moving historical fiction, The Midwife by Tricia Cresswell is perfect for fans of The Familiars and The Binding.

1838. After a violent storm, a woman is found alone, naked and near death, on the Northumberland moors. She has no memory of who she is or how she got there. But she can remember how to help a woman in labour and how to expertly dress a wound, and can speak fluent French. With the odds against her, a penniless single woman, she starts to build her life from scratch, using her skills to help other women around her. She finds a happy place in the world. Until tragedy strikes, and she must run for her life . . .

In London, Dr Borthwick lives a solitary life working as an accoucheur dealing with mothers and babies in the elegant homes of high society together with his midwife, and volunteering in the slums of the Devil’s Acre alongside a young widow, Eleanor Johnson. His professional reputation is spotless and he keeps his private life just as clean, isolating himself from any new acquaintances. But he is harbouring a dark secret from his past – one that threatens to spill over everything.

Amongst the many excellent entries for the Mslexia Novel Prize, this novel really stood out: a gripping and smartly executed double narrative full of surprises, with something serious to say about women's place in society and the strategies they employ to survive.
A vivid, engrossing mystery about a woman who can’t remember her own identity but knows with certainty how to deliver babies. The authentic medical details form a compelling picture of the precariousness of life in the mid 19th century, when childbirth could prove fatal for even the fittest of women. I was hooked!
Atmospheric, haunting and intriguing. A compelling and beautifully written debut.