Cover Image: The Frozen River

The Frozen River

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Member Reviews

As soon as I finished this book, I immediately began telling friends about it. That is the highest form of praise I can give to a book. If I want to talk about the plot, and want everyone I know to read the book, that shows how much it affected me.

I am not a person that reads a lot of historical fiction. The plot must really interest me. I generally read light books that simply give me an escape from real life. When I read the summary for The Frozen River, I definitely wanted to read this book. I am so glad that it crossed my path. This book is based on the true history of an amazing, strong woman. I am so glad that I now know about her. She is the type of person that would have had me interested in learning history when I was in school. Since it has been many years since I graduated, I hope that students now are exposed to great women in history, such as Martha Ballard. Generations after her, know about her life because she took the time to write a diary for many years. This book is based on those entries.

The story takes place over six-months in the town of Hallowell, Maine during 1789 while the Kennebec river is frozen. There is much going on in this town and I found that people are the same no matter what period they lived. There are the good caring ones, and the ones only out for themselves wanting power over other people. I used to think that life would have been better when things were simple without all the technology of modern life, but I find myself proven wrong all the time and this novel is a perfect example.

I found the book to be a bit slow in movement for most of the story, but I must admit I liked that. I thought it brought the mood of the town closer to me. It was a time that things did not move at a fast pace. Life was slower, especially in hard winters. I snuggled into the story, as if it were a cozy blanket and let it take me to a place, I never imagined I would travel.

I highly recommend this book and hope people will read it! I wonโ€™t be forgetting about Hallowell any time soon. When the weather is cold, and I think I canโ€™t take anymore of it, I think I will remember the people of this story and all that they had to deal with, then I will hopefully not complain.

I want to thank Doubleday Books and NetGalley for giving me the pleasure of reading the advance reader copy, with no obligation to write a review. My review is written freely as a hobby, and is totally my own opinion, not influenced by receiving the ARC.

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I loved her previous book and enjoyed this one as well Great research, great story but a tad slow. Thanks for the opportunity to read.

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๐“๐‡๐„ ๐…๐‘๐Ž๐™๐„๐ ๐‘๐ˆ๐•๐„๐‘ (pub 11.14) was one of my most highly anticipated reads of 2023 and it exceeded all expectations. Thank you to @doubledaybooks for the early copy.

(๐˜ž๐˜ฉ๐˜บ ๐˜ช๐˜ด ๐˜ช๐˜ต ๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฅ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ธ๐˜ณ๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ฆ ๐˜ข๐˜ฃ๐˜ฐ๐˜ถ๐˜ต ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฌ๐˜ด ๐˜ ๐˜ญ๐˜ฐ๐˜ท๐˜ฆ ๐˜ท๐˜ด ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฌ๐˜ด ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ต ๐˜ธ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฎ๐˜ช๐˜ฅ?)

It's no secret that I love books with strong women. Women with gumption. Women who blur the lines of whatโ€™s expected. They inspire me. Lawhon has a gift of unearthing these unsung heroines and bringing their story to the page. In ๐˜›๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜๐˜ณ๐˜ฐ๐˜ป๐˜ฆ๐˜ฏ ๐˜™๐˜ช๐˜ท๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ we meet Martha Ballard, one of the most undaunting midwives in US history, whose story is inspired by her real life and copious diary entries.

This historical mystery begins along the frigid shores of the Kennebec River in 1789 where a man is found dead. Over the course of a brutal winter, a small, tight knit community is impacted by secrets both concealed and revealed as the crimes begin to unravel layer by layer.

I was emotionally invested with both the story and the characters from the first page. I love the richness of Lawhonโ€™s writing. From the depictions of daily struggles in New England in the 18th century, to the majestic silver fox who appears to Martha, or the din of the local pub, it was all so vivid in my mind.

I especially loved the relationship between Martha and her husband Ephraim. Their devotion to one another was tender and endearing. How I would love to share a cup of coffee with them.

Highly recommend.

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So much to unpack with this novel!
I enjoyed the writing style of the author a lot. It wasn't bogged down in descriptions or too much "head talk"--what I call the thinking of the characters. The pace was steady and had a lot of ups and downs before building to the climax. And what a climax it was!

I loved the bits and pieces that the author dropped throughout the book that brought everything to fruition at the end. There were times it went back in time 35, 30, 12, 20 years prior. They were clearly labelled and explained something relating to the present time of the story.

you will definitely be very aggravated as a woman reading this and seeing the whole spectrum of women during that time represented. From the educated to the illiterate. From the way that a woman was blamed and fined for sexual sins yet the man gets off without any consequences.

My favorite thing? I loved the relationship between Martha and Ephraim. It is how I hope that me and my own husband will be 10 years from now.

This book will make you mad at times and then at the key moment at the end you will feel the upmost satisfaction of judgement and punishment being rendered in full. It is intense. And there are some raw passages--this is not my normal Christian fiction. It is historical fiction.

I would read this author's work again because it was very well researched and interesting.
4 stars.

I was given an ARC of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. I was not obligated to write a positive review and all opinions are 100% me.

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Fascinating story inspired by the real life Martha Ballard. The writing was excellent and the focus of many women, along with many injustices they faced was easy to identify with and hard to put down. A little murder mystery doesnโ€™t hurt either.

I loved the relationship and trust Martha and Ephraim had, and how the devoted themselves to integrity and their community even when they didnโ€™t agree or even like the individuals. The kinship and devotion Martha had as a midwife to the other women was also inspiring. That opinions and feelings could be put aside to do what needed to be done.

Such an interesting look at how small towns in colonial times went. So much gossip and judgement and often injustices especially as a woman. While there was so much sadness, helplessness and incredible injustice on the subject of rape and struggle to make the evil men accountable, it was conveyed in a way that made you empathetic and want to stand alongside the women fighting for their dignity and protection. And love the men who tried to protect them as best they could in the environment.

Loved it and really well done.

Thanks to Netgalley for the advanced copy of this book. All opinions are mine.

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The Frozen River by Ariel Lawhon is a satisfying, historical portrayal of Martha Ballard, one of the most audacious midwives in US history. Ariel Lawhon has a gift for finding true stories of brave women and bringing them to life in her books. I adore her previous novel CODE NAME HELENE. The Frozen River is a slight change because Lawhon must develop much of the background for her story from her imagination. She based the character on a real woman, who worked as a midwife during the late 1790s after the American Revolution. Martha Ballard was the only midwife in Maine during the 18th century to keep a written record of her work. She is also an ancestor of Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, and great-great-grandmother of Mary Hobart, one of the first female physicians in the US! Martha kept a journal of her life recording the people she helped and some local events. Lawhon was able to take actual events of history with the horrific assault of a local woman by a prominent judge and weave a story around it. The writing is compelling, horrifying in detail about midwifery of the 1790s and also poignant in the portrayal of the travails of women and mothers. I only have one living child, but the passages about losing a child are hauntingly beautiful. I think the power of Marthaโ€™s story is in her fiery spirit and determination to care for women and stand up to brutality. I loved the richness of Lawhonโ€™s writing whether describing a majestic silver fox who appears to Martha, or the savory stew of the local pub. This is a phenomenal book and I think Martha is the kind of woman I would have loved to meet. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher Doubleday for the advance e-galley.

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Absolutely incredible. Richly atmospheric, enticingly suspenseful, and an absolutely gorgeous portrait of a community of women. This might be Lawhon's best yet. Please make Martha into a series!

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First, let me give many thanks to Doubleday Publishing and NetGalley for the privilege of reading this digital ARC. This review is my own opinion. Sometimes I think it is harder to write a 5 star review than one with a poor rating because my words cannot do the book justice. I will try, though. The Frozen River is set in the late 1700's, It is winter in a small village and everything has turned to ice. In the midst of this cold devastation a body is found in the frozen river and brought into the local pub. The body is laid out for the midwife, who is also the only one in town that has the medical expertise to be the town coroner. Martha keeps up to date notebooks that contain births and deaths in this town. She has heard death bed confessions, many secrets while caring for the ill or the birthing. During the inquest into the death it becomes clear that there is more than one villager that would have wanted the man dead. Martha has a personal stake in the inquest outcome because her son may be involved and that has her scared. The pastor's wife has reported that she was raped. This will also come to bear in the inquest. Martha will be testifying while being torn between the truth and the fear that her children could be implicated in murder. While the murder and the trial are set throughout the winter, there are also flashbacks that allow the reader to get a complete feel for the life of Martha and her family. The cold winter months sure played a large part in the suspense contained within this novel. I absolutely recommend it to everyone, no matter what their chosen genre usually is.

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Ariel Lawhon never disappoints! She has such a wonderful way of crafting a multi-layered story within a compelling world. There's a lot of history and tradition here. You can tell Lawhon did her research. In some ways THE FROZEN RIVER reminds me of Maggie O'Farrell's writing. While this is a long book, it does keep the reader's attention. The crime storyline is compelling and clever and the midwife at the center of it all, Martha Ballard, is fascinating.

Thank you to Doubleday Books and NetGalley for a complimentary e-galley in exchange for my honest review.

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This was a fantastic piece of historical fiction that was made even more interesting, as Lawhorn based the story on real people in early 18th century America. I loved the way Lawhorn wrote in a way that captured the human aspects of our previous early ancestors and the kind of people they had to be. I was so entwined with Martha Ballard and her family I was sad to see the book end. I am an avid family historian with deep roots in early American history and this story really resonated with me. I am fascinated by the midwives of old, and how incredibly vital they were in a community. All in all, I highly recommend this book! #thefrozenriver #ariellawhorn #netgalley #goodreads

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Ariel Lawhon has captivated me again with yet another amazing book that simply MUST be added to your TBR lists! Words cannot truly express how much I enjoyed reading this and experiencing all of the emotions that tangled up inside of me. The Frozen River is an historical fiction/mystery inspired by the real life and diary of Martha Ballard, a midwife in the late 1700's. The story of Martha is powerful, compelling, and extremely interesting. The writing was so descriptive and vivid and real that I felt like I journeyed back in time and into the book itself. I loved the history and old-time traditions as well as all of the referenced Shakespeare quotes. I'll just say that I loved everything about it. I completely devoured this book and could not stop reading!

I highly recommend that you read this book as soon as you can! And make sure to read the author's note once you finish the book. It will provide you with more details regarding what's fact and fiction, Martha's story and her contribution to American history. Very interesting!

Thank you to the author, Doubleday Books and NetGalley for allowing me digital access in exchange for my honest review!!

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