Charity's Burden

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 25 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

Dollycas’s Thoughts

This was such a powerful story! 1889 in Amesbury, Massachusetts and Quaker midwife Rose Carol is caught up in a hot political issue. As a midwife, she feels part of her job is to help with family planning but with The Comstock Law that is on the same level as performing an abortion. Let me be clear, Rose does not perform “mechanical” abortions but someone in town does and it may have cost one of her patients their lives.

Charity Skells is dead after losing too much blood, more blood that would have been caused by a miscarriage. Rose believes Charity may have had an abortion. When she visits the husband’s work to inform him of his wife’s death the receptionist is a little overprotective regarding who can talk to the man. A woman whose mother provides prohibited procedures. Rose also finds another doctor in town that could have hurt her patient. She soon realizes she needs to the help of her friend, Detective Kevin Donovan, but they have to get a little creative with their communications because the new police chief has banned her from the station and any case she may want to get involved in.

On Rose’s homefront, she is still waiting for approval to marry her non-Quaker beau David both from his mother and the Amesbury Friends. Her niece Faith has been given permission to wed her betrothed Zeb and the marriage will take place soon. Her brother-in-law Frederick introduces his new companion Winnie. Everyone is happy because he had been struggling greatly following his wife’s death.

Ms. Maxwell weaves such a wonderful story of the life of women in 1889.  I had a “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” moment think of our world in 2019.

Rose’s life is complicated as she tries to determine how her patient died, but she is also dealing with her other pregnant patients and helping raise her sister’s children. Rose is so brave, stubborn, and independent, even when her own life is threatened.  She and her Friends are comfortable in their faith and their place in the town. The author strikes a nice balance between the main mystery plot and the daily life subplots. I loved that history moves on with a telephone in Rose’s home and that she helps with an unusual birth,

Two ceremonial events, a funeral, and a wedding take place in this story. I was so intrigued by these happenings in the Quaker tradition. Even a Catholic in attendance comments on the differences. The Quakers have such a calm way about them in happy times and in sad and are very open to allowing non-Friends to express themselves as well. I was moved by both events.

Characters that are genuine with true dialogues including the “thee”s and “thou”s, are involved in a very compelling story. Scenes are described in such rich detail, I forced myself to slow down so I could breathe in every word.

I am so excited. The next book in this series Judge Thee Not will be released in just a few weeks, September 10.

As always, I recommend reading this series in order for maximum enjoyment.
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Charity's Burden by Edith Maxwell is the fourth in the Quaker Midwife series. Rose Carroll is a midwife who resides with her dead sister's family in order to assist. She sleeps and runs her practice out of the parlor. He fiancé, David, is a busy doctor whom she will marry as soon as his mother consents. The impending wedding has been an issue because David is not a Friend from her local meeting but that has been dealt with, if only his mother... Currently Rose is escorting a client to the hospital. She appears to be having a miscarriage but there is too much blood and it is the wrong color. Rose suspects something more. Sadly the bleeding couldn't be stopped and Charity Skells dies. Rose feels compelled to let her husband, Ransom, know and so she sets off to his place of employment, where some of the people are behaving a little strangely. 

Rose is an interesting character, which is able to interact with a host of people. She has a friend who is a police officer, although she is currently banned from the station, she has a variety of clients, all of whom know other interesting people, she has a keen sense of who and what. Her first impressions are nearly impeccable. She has a big heart, wanting to help others whenever she can. She loves her family and wants a good life with her husband-to-be. She is an excellent, well-written character. Charity's Burden is an intriguing look into the lives of 19th Century small-town America, Friends or otherwise. It is worth the read.

I received a free ARC of Charity's Burden. All opinions expressed herein are solely my own.  #netgalley #charitysburden
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I enjoyed this book. It held my attention from beginning to end. It was a quick, light, and fun read. I would recommend it. I love this series and the author.
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Edith Maxwell writes wonderful historical mysteries full of great detail. I have now read all four in this series and not one disappointed me. Rose Carroll is a Quaker midwife, taking care of women in Amesbury, Massachusetts in 1889. Sad to say, the family planning issues faced by Rose and her patients are still being dealt with in 2019. Because of the attitudes concerning abortion, women continue to suffer and die. When one of Rose's patients, a mother of five already, dies from what appears to be a spontaneous abortion, Rose isn't accepting the word miscarriage on the death certificate. She turns to her friend, Police Detective Kevin Donovan and requests an autopsy. As she suspected, this was not the work of Mother Nature but was it a botched abortion or a murder disguised as a miscarriage? When Rose starts to search for answers, the new Chief of Police is none too happy with her snooping. Given the method of murder and the fact that women are much more likely to speak with a woman as opposed to a policeman, Rose is the perfect investigator. She has quite a few people on her list of suspects - the victim's husband for starters. He has plenty of secrets. Then there is a disgraced doctor and a woman who performs abortions. As Rose gets closer to the answers, her life is put in danger. Along with trying to catch a killer, Rose is looking forward to an upcoming wedding in the family and continues to hope that, one day, she, too, will marry the man she loves.
Historical mysteries are a favorite of mine and I came away with new knowledge and the desire to read further about women's issues in this time period. If the reader learns nothing else, it's that nothing has really changed much for women. The struggle continues. I hope this series does, too. I so want to see Rose and David married.
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Edith Maxwell is an Agatha-nominated mystery writer with several current series, both contemporary and historical. Charity's Burden, published this week by Midnight Ink, is her latest entry in the Quaker Midwife mysteries; it takes place in Amesbury, Massachusetts, in the winter of 1889. Like the author herself, midwife and sleuth Rose Carroll is a member of the Society of Friends. In this book, Rose looks into the suspicious death of a young mother, perhaps from an illegal abortion. If you'd enjoy spending time in historical small-town New England in the company of a compassionate woman, while picking up details on female health care and Quaker beliefs and practices at the time, this novel is worth investigating. Let me add one more thing that attracted me to the story: the heroine wears spectacles!  I was glad to get the opportunity to ask the author a few questions.  (Introduction to author interview)
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Once again Rose Carroll , Quaker midwife has stumbled into another murder. This time a young mother of five, will Rose be able to piece together the clues and find the what led to the death of Charity?
The  options are many as to what happened to Charity, was it simply an early miscarriage or was it a botched abortion?  This historical fiction leads us through the past when women did not have access to contraceptives to the extent of modern women. I felt as if Rose even though a Quaker and midwife leaned toward abortion as a viable choice for too many pregnancies in a short span. I had trouble reconciling that with her Quaker lifestyle. I know that many midwives leaned toward helping with herbal remedies as a way to prevent or terminate early pregnancies.  
The thread of romance between Rose and David continues the hopefully there will be an additional book to “wrap things up.”  
 I really enjoyed the previous book that I read in this series but this one had so many formatting errors that it greatly distracted my enjoyment of the book.  I know the final product will be perfect, but it affected my speed at reading this ARC. That being said thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read this e-copy opinions are my own.
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CHARITY'S BURDEN by Edith Maxwell
The Fourth Quaker Midwife Mystery

When Rose Carroll gets a call from a desperate woman she rushes to help. However, Charity is bleeding too profusely and dies. There seems to be too much blood for an early miscarriage, could her death be the result of a mechanical abortion? If so, was it just incompetence that killed Charity, or was it murder?

Rose Carroll is intelligent, caring, and feisty, especially for a Quaker. Yet it is her faith that guides and helps her as she confronts belligerent and dangerous characters. In this fourth Quaker Midwife Mystery we see romances blossoming and blooming as Frederick welcomes a lady friend and Faith and Zeb plan their wedding. Meanwhile Rose patiently waits for her marriage to David. I was happy to meet Kevin's wife and precocious son and look forward to even more of their involvement in future books. But not all relationships are happy and healthy, as we see with Charity. Was her husband involved with her death? Did he treat her well beforehand?

Once again Edith Maxwell has provided a well researched trip back in time. I found the details about nineteenth century birth control and abortion fascinating. The mystery was compelling with numerous suspects, unsavory characters, and intriguing motives. 

While CHARITY'S BURDEN takes place in 1889, its themes are just as relevant today. Women's health, abortion, and the ability to choose are the center of this mystery. Sadly, many of these issues remain today as certain portions of the Comstock Act still exist, as do other laws and the views of certain members of society.

CHARITY'S BURDEN is a fascinating historical mystery that addresses issues women still face today.
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Charity’s Burden is 4th in the Quaker Midwife Mystery series, filled with intense suspense, intrigue, and family joy. Historical events are well-researched. The characters are very mature for their ages and sufficiently defined.  The mystery is stimulating. At the same time, the mystery results in thought-provoking conversations about something that is still a hot-button subject today.

It is the winter of 1889 in Amesbury, Massachusetts. Rose Carroll is a Quaker midwife in her late 20’s. She is a diligent, caring professional who loves what she does. Since her sister Harriet’s death, she lives in and offices out of the home of her brother-in-law to help with her five nieces and nephews. Rose’s fiancé, David, is a physician; their wedding date is pending due to objections from the local Meeting (as he is not Quaker) and David’s mother. We get to join Rose and her family as they prepare for the marriage of Faith, her oldest niece, and Zeb, who she has been seeing for a while. 

Rose is called to go to the home of Charity Skells, a young mother of five who lost her last child, born prematurely. The Skells have had financial problems. Charity’s husband Ransom has recently gone back to work, but during her last pregnancy, she often went without food to feed their children. When Rose arrives at the Skells’ apartment, Charity seems to be having a miscarriage, but there is far too much bleeding for a first-trimester pregnancy. Rose rushes her to nearby Methodist Hospital, but it is too late to save her. She requests an autopsy to be performed, but it must be either requested by the police or approved by her husband.

Rose successfully gets the autopsy to go forward through the police detective and friend, Kevin, who she has given information to in the past about murders. Charity’s mother, Virtue, had given her money to get herbs that could take care of her situation as she was still weak from her last pregnancy. Rose’s concern for the women in her care coupled with autopsy results and information she begins to hear from other clients indicate that someone is illegally performing “mechanical” (as opposed to herbal) abortions and give her some clues. There are several suspects, including Charity’s husband, suspected of having an affair with a co-worker. When an attempt is made on Rose’s life, she knows she is getting too close to the killer and must decide if she should leave it to the police to find who the killer is, and whether it was on purpose or very badly botched.

This is a challenging, multi-faceted mystery that brings more women’s history to the forefront. I was surprised at the stringency of the Comstock Laws that made it illegal to even discuss family planning or birth control, much less give herbal preparations or use mechanical means for an abortion. I appreciate the frustrations of women in obtaining any kind of birth control and their medical providers who must keep silent. This is a challenging read, however, for anyone who is pro-life. I appreciated seeing a marriage and funeral conducted in the Quaker tradition along with how Rose practices her faith. I was somewhat surprised at the final events, including confirmation of who the murderer was. This is a well-written, thought-provoking novel, and I recommend it to anyone who appreciates historical mysteries.

From a thankful heart: I received a copy of the eArc of this novel from the publisher through NetGalley; a positive review was not required.
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Be ready to go back to 1889 and Amesbury Massachusetts, and with our Quaker/Detective/Midwife Rose Carroll, now this is the fourth in this series and I have read them all, but there is enough information give that you can read this one alone.
When are all the facts are reveled here it all goes back to greed, only so many are hurt by this person’s acts. Surprises happens and I felt I knew who the culprit was, but I kept changing my mind.
Poor Rose, bodies seem to follow her and she is innocent and just goes about helping woman, and newborns. Also, will she and David ever be able to marry, life goes on, but so do what at time seem to be insurmountable problems.
Another mystery and a glimpse into the life of a Quaker.

I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher Midnight Ink, and was not required to give a positive review.
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Edith Maxwell is the author who introduced me to the Quaker religion and way of life; this series is an absolute treat to read!

Life continues to be busy for Rose Carroll; she is a very competent midwife providing an excellent service to expectant mothers and their babies. New babies always expected and, unfortunately, where there's new life there tends to be death. With the latest victim a young mother well-known to Rose, she approaches her friend and local police detective, Kevin Donovan with her suspicions of foul play. Can these two work together to find out the true facts of what has taken place?

I adore this series! The amount of research which the author must carry out to get all the details as accurate as possible must be phenomenal. Not only do we follow Rose's investigations but we also meet her current patients, find out how her nieces and nephews are growing up and, of course, discover why her wedding to David, her betrothed, hasn't taken place yet. With obstacles in their way this is an intrinsic part of the story and one which fascinates me. Another thoroughly good read from this author; a beautifully written, solid mystery, both informative and a superbly entertaining story. As always, I look forward eagerly to the next in series! It's also worth mentioning that Edith writes cosy mysteries under the pseudonym Maddie Day and I highly recommend ALL of her writing. Five flashing, sparkly stars - and each one worth at least double.

My thanks to publisher Midnight Ink for my copy via NetGalley. This is, naturally, my honest, original and unbiased review.
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Charity’s Burden is the fourth book in the Quaker Midwife Mystery series.

I love this series.  The author does a wonderful job of describing the community of Amesbury as it must have appeared in 1889.  And also providing an insightful look into another controversial topic of the time, the providing of information on family planning and birth control.

Charity Skells comes to the midwife, Rose Carroll suffering from heavy bleeding.  Rose Carroll’s first thought is that she is having a miscarriage but further examination, Rose Carroll in pretty sure that Charity is suffering from a botched abortion.  She puts Charity in her buggy and head for the hospital where Charity dies soon after arriving.  Rose Carroll seeks out her friend and the police detective, Kevin Douglas to see if she get him to order the hospital to perform an autopsy.  As she is explaining what she wants Chief Talbot orders her out of the police station and threatens to fire Douglas if he attempts work with Rose Carroll.  This is devastating news to Rose Carroll but vows to find who performed the illegal abortion on Charity.  She soon learns that Charity’s husband might be in a relationship with a lady who lives near their farm and whose mother allegedly performs abortions.  There’s also a man, John Douglas, who holds himself out as a doctor, who also claims to help women with unwanted pregnancies.  Rose Carroll will once again help with her sleuthing from her friend and postmistress, Bertie Winslow and her fiance David.  When one evening her buggy is deliberately run off the road she knows she must have struck a nerve with the killer.

This is another well-plotted and told story and has a cast of wonderful characters.  Ms. Maxwell, as in the other books in the series, provides a look at some significant item of history and skillfully weaves it into the story.

Hopefully, we will have more books in this informative series.
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Great historical fiction with a mystery.  Rose, a Quaker midwife, has stumbled on a bigger problem in her town and environs when she attends Charity Skills, who dies from a miscarriage. Working with Keith Donovan, a very open minded detective, she uncovers a real issue.  My fondness for this series is based in part on the fascinating relationships between Rose and others, notably her fiancé David, wo is not a Quaker.  It's well written and educational about a culture and a time period.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  Don't worry if you haven't read the earlier ones, this is fine as a standalone and a very good read.
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I have read this book in return for a pre-publication copy of the book.  Charity's Burden is a murder mystery in a historical setting.  Charity Snell is pregnant, and she's found dead under suspicious circumstances.  The murderer could be her cheating husband or one of several people.  Her midwife Rose Carroll attempts to discover who the murderer could be.  It occurs in the late 1800s in Massachusetts.  Her strong personality combined with her Quaker faith makes her a force to be reckoned with.  I grew to love her, and I look forward to the next book in the series!
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Charity's Burden  

Edith Maxwell's CHARITY'S BURDEN was so satisfying that I held the book and contemplated it for a few minutes when I finished.  I had read all afternoon and evening until sleepiness overtook me, and a description of Rose's weariness confirmed that we both needed rest, so I "slept on it" and read to stunning resolution at dawn. 
The death of a patient from excessive bleeding marked the beginning of a very twisted mystery, leading to discussions of “family spacing,” “regulating” women’s monthlies, and the Comstock Laws making even gentle remedies illegal.  Rose Carroll resolves to be careful and stay out of police matters, but is drawn in by curiosity and a sense of duty, and the need to clear her own reputation of the poison of gossips. 
There is also a wedding to plan, and a twinge of sadness at the delay of her own, but it will happen “as Way opens.” What a marvelous way to think of difficulties!  
Births, equine as well as human, are dramatic, sometimes difficult, and joyous!  Mothers are heroic!  The day to day tasks inspire in a smaller, but still crucial way, as life goes on. Rose, wrapped for the cold, pauses to plan dinner, starting dough for bread and then re-wrapping herself to face the cold.  The bread-making reminded me of my grandma’s baking, no recipe, but the best ever, and the cinnamon sugar to make cookies from left-over pie dough was a fun bonus in my mom’s kitchen as well.  
There was sad irony that Charity was reluctant to accept charity, did so for her children’s sake, but underfed herself.  The economy made charity necessary. “What was a chandler to do when the world had turned to gas lighting instead of candles?”  
A nurse warns, regarding a husband’s refusal to use a ‘safe,’ “A man who disregards his wife’s health isn’t worth her affections.” Men of intemperate habits can create harm beyond themselves, reminding me of Elizabeth Proctor’s warning to John in THE CRUCIBLE, “There is a promise made” even in what was intended as a meaningless coupling.
Fortunate are the women who partner with good men, who do (thank goodness) outnumber the others and enrich lives with love and comfort, wisdom and expertise. There is promise of more happiness . . . book five will come in the fall.  One doesn’t have to read the series in order, but you might want to.  There’s time . . . 
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It's February 1889 in Amesbury, Massachusetts.  Quaker midwife Rose Carroll gets a call from Charity Skells but she is not able to save the mother of 5 from bleeding out and dying from an apparent early miscarriage,  Rose is suspicious about Charity's death and requests an autopsy which reveals the woman's uterus had been perforated a number of times.  Did Charity get an illegal abortion?  There are several possible suspects in Charity's murder.  Charity's husband Ransom may have been having relations with Delia Davies, the receptionist at his shipbuilding workplace.  Delia's mother, the mysterious Savoire offered services to women but did that also include abortions? Disgraced physician Wallace Buckham also performed similar services.  Rose continues her sleuthing despite getting threatened to stop.  With a new police chief in town, Rose has to hide her aiding her friend detective Kevin Donovan in the investigation..  

The marriage of Rose's niece Faith ends the story and provides a hint to the next stage in her relationship with her fiance David.

I received an eARC via Netgalley and Midnight Ink with no requirements for a review.  I voluntarily read this book and provided this review.
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I love the Quaker Midwife series, and this latest installment did not disappoint! What seems like a natural occurrence actually turns out to be murder! I thought that’s Rose has become more mature and compassionate. I also loved the mystery, and it kept me guessing! Overall, this was a solid mystery, and I look forward to more!
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Charity's Burden is not your typical cozy mystery or Christian Quaker read. It has a definite bite. Where should I start? I'll start with this is not be viewed as a Christian fiction or cozy mystery. Yes, it centers around the Quakers in Massachusettes in 1889 but there are no mentions of bible verses or faith-based sermons you usually find in a Christian book. There is one romance scene that while it does not go into detail you understand there are inappropriate relations between two unmarried characters, one of them being the Quaker midwife.

This book discusses in detail the pros and cons of different abortion and safe sex practices in 1889. I found it very educational for the curious researcher in me. If you are fiercely against abortion I would say this is not the book for you. As I was reading I did not feel as if this was a political platform, it just shared how such things were thought of during the time. The Comstock laws were mentioned several times during the book and I would suggest you take a moment to look those up if you are unfamiliar with them.

I am definitely interested in reading the first three books in the series and have in fact already requested the first book from my local library.

Please do not use this review for ANY POLITICAL platform as this is not the place for them! 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Midnight Ink through NetGalley. Any and all opinions expressed in the above review are entirely my own.

PS: Edith Maxwell is also Maddie Day of the Country Store series.
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Frightening parallels to today’s fight for women’s reproductive rights. Midwife Rose Carroll tries to help women plan their children and space them out a little. It is not always easy and Rose is called to help deliver those babies. When one of her clients dies from what looks to be murder through a botched mechanical abortion, Rose tries to find the killer. Another engaging book In the Quaker Midwife series.
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I like this series and I liked this installment.
It was an entertaining and engaging read.
It was great to meet again the cast of characters and read about the evolution in their life.
The mystery was great and it kept me guessing till the end.
I look forward to reading the next installment in this series.
Highly recommended!
Many thanks to Midnight Ink and Netgalley for this ARC
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Interesting story about the death of a young mother, a patient of a midwife. The midwife can't seem to help herself from trying to solve the case. Lots of twists that keeps you jumping frim one character to another.
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