Tuesday 10 October 2017

The Birth of Gossip by Pamela Mann

Amazon UK £1.99 £8.99
Amazon US $2.58 $11.19
Amazon CA n/a

This title is shortlisted for the October Book of the Month

Family Drama  / Witchcraft
Elizabeth I
Hertfordshire, England

Marjory is going through a bad time. As a midwife in rural Hertfordshire she has never lost either baby or mother. Two other older midwives in the area, jealous of her being appointed by the Lord of the Manor to tend his pregnant wife cite her previous unblemished record, an adopted black cat and a mole on her arm as proof that she must be a witch. Meanwhile, Marjory loses three babies and a mother, and is blamed for the death of the father of one of them in quick succession. Included in the death toll is the miscarriage of the Lord's wife. Charges are brought against Marjory but she is cleared and advised to return to her own manor, which, following the desertion of her husband, has fallen on hard times.

When a former servant appears unexpectedly, the novel goes into permanent flashback, telling Marjory's story, her parents' execution for heresy and how she met – and captured – her faithless husband. But in this section we see a different Marjory. A younger woman, conscience of her position in society, selfish and somewhat manipulating.

This is a complex story, well handled by the author, and I wish to avoid any more spoilers, but the ending will leave you wondering and I thoroughly recommend this captivating tale.

One thing I feel I should point out- and this is very much as constructive advice for new writers, not for this excellent author herself. In the edition sent to be reviewed there is a slight discrepancy in correct punctuation... (and I must point out that the edition I received may well have been a pre-proofread copy, so not a final one!)

There are a number of incidences where dialogue lasts through two, or even more, paragraphs. Usual practice would be to break these long structures up with something like:
(new line) She shrugged, unable to continue for a moment. “….text.”

 or to put no closing speech marks at the end of the paragraph, but to add opening marks at the beginning of the next e.g:
“……. text… (end para no closing ")
(new line) “…text…”

I am surprised that an editor or proof-reader did not pick this up, but as I mentioned, this could have been a pre-published edition, and anyway, it is a very small point, and does not detract in the slightest from the overall appearance, content or enjoyment of this very good novel.

© Richard Tearle
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