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The Frozen River

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A gripping historical mystery inspired by the life and diary of Martha Ballard, a renowned 18th-century midwife who defied the legal system and wrote herself into American history.

Maine, 1789: When the Kennebec River freezes, entombing a man in the ice, Martha Ballard is summoned to examine the body and determine cause of death. As a midwife and healer, she is privy to much of what goes on behind closed doors in Hallowell. Her diary is a record of every birth and death, crime and debacle that unfolds in the close-knit community. Months earlier, Martha documented the details of an alleged rape committed by two of the town’s most respected gentlemen—one of whom has now been found dead in the ice. But when a local physician undermines her conclusion, declaring the death to be an accident, Martha is forced to investigate the shocking murder on her own.

Over the course of one winter, as the trial nears, and whispers and prejudices mount, Martha doggedly pursues the truth. Her diary soon lands at the center of the scandal, implicating those she loves, and compelling Martha to decide where her own loyalties lie.

Clever, layered, and subversive, Ariel Lawhon’s newest offering introduces an unsung heroine who refused to accept anything less than justice at a time when women were considered best seen and not heard. The Frozen River is a thrilling, tense, and tender story about a remarkable woman who left an unparalleled legacy yet remains nearly forgotten to this day.

Synopsis source:


Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
HB&W Rating: 5
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This book is everything. It is raw, powerful, heartbreaking, powerful, insightful, hopeful, heart-mending, and so much more.

We know how women were treated at this time, purposely uneducated, undervalued, seen as possessions and always underestimated. We know. But with this book, we feel it. So many times through listening to this book, I was gripped by the throat at the horror, pain, injustice and the helplessness that these characters had to experience. So many times I felt my heart drop to my stomach, but as dark and trying as it was, I could do nothing but admire the strength and resilience of these women and I can only aspire to the courage and moral fortitude of Martha Ballard.

While much of this story is fiction, many of the events are factual and based on real people. Martha Ballard was a real-life midwife who made a name for herself during a time when women were left out of the history books. You will want to read the Author’s Note for additional insight on this, as much of the resolution to these events was fictionalized for the sake of the story. But for any woman who has ever been the victim of sexual assault or feared for it, I think you’ll be pleased with the resolution.

Such an amazing story, 100% worth all the hype. Also, Martha and Ephraim are relationship goals.

Until next time,

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