Called to Justice, has been nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Historical Novel!
I am so happy to tell thee that my author's third book about my humble life as a midwife - with a dose of sleuthing added, to my surprise - will be published next month. It is called Turning the Tide, and it recounts the adventures, intrigues, and tragedies that befell several of us during Presidential election week in the year of 1888.
Thee remembers, perhaps? It was when our incumbent - President Grover Cleveland (who had my support, I have to tell thee) - ran against Benjamin Harrison for the highest office in the land. And not a one of us of the fairer sex could cast a vote!
Edith said I might present the opening pages of the book:
Rowena Felch stood tall and graceful on the podium in the Free Will Baptist Church hall. “In this election season of 1888, we must work with ever more diligence to gain women the vote!” She sliced the air with her fervor. “We must convince our Massachusetts lawmakers to act. It is past time.”
The Saturday night meeting of the Amesbury Woman Suffrage Association was jam-full. I’d arrived a bit late with my friend Bertie Winslow, and we’d found places to sit near the side of the hall. I could see easily, being at least as tall as the speaker, but petite Bertie craned her neck to catch a glimpse of the speaker. It was my first suffrage meeting, although not hers, and I’d met Rowena only once before, at Bertie’s house. The full room was warm with female bodies and smelled of women: floral aromas, breast milk, and yeasty hints of sweat, scents integral to my world of midwifery. The gas lamps on all the walls gave a welcoming aura and highlighted Rowena’s face glowing with fervor.
“Do not lose heart, ladies,” Rowena went on. “We shall gather on Tuesday across from the main polling place in the new Armory. Frannie will hand you each a sash on your way out tonight.” She gestured toward the back of the room. “Please wear them proudly on Election Day.”
I turned to look. Frannie Eisenman, the grandmother of a baby girl I’d delivered just last week, held a sunflower-yellow sash in the air and waved it for all to see.
“Does anyone have a question?” Rowena asked.
An older woman with hair the color of iron stood. It was Ruby Bracken, a member of the same Friends Meeting as me. “What is our plan if we’re met with opposition from the gentleman, as we surely will be?”
A teenage girl with curly black tresses sat next to Ruby. The girl’s eyes widened as if in fear at the thought of opposition, but I was glad to see females of all ages at the meeting. An older lady with a comfortable corset-free figure and soft white sausage curls framing her face emerged from a side door at the front of the hall and walked to the podium. Rowena took a pace back, beaming at the newcomer.
“If this comes to pass, we shall link arms and stand tall,” the woman proclaimed, her flat black lace headdress falling like a veil and accentuating her snowy-white hair.
Bertie’s mouth fell open. “That’s Mrs. Stanton!”
“The Mrs. Stanton?” I asked, shifting on the hard wooden chair.
“Elizabeth Cady Stanton, herself. Why, I never.” Bertie’s eyes were bright. “Right here in Amesbury. Let’s go greet her after the meeting finishes.”
Murmurs of the name rose up all around us. My mother, an ardent suffragist in her own right, had gotten to know Elizabeth Stanton at the International Women’s Conference in the spring and had sent glowing tales of Elizabeth’s courage from Washington City.
“Be not afraid,” Elizabeth continued. “We are in the right and we shall not be intimidated. Please stand and join me in song.” She waited until all rose, then began,
Daughters of freedom arise in your might.
March to the watchwords Justice and Right.
The women’s voices singing the inspiring lyrics in unison raised goosebumps on my arms. I hummed along since I didn’t know the words.
Why will ye slumber? Wake, O wake.
Lo, on your legions light doth break.
Sunder the fetters custom hath made.
Come from the valley, hill and glade.
The song went on from there until the hall filled with applause.
“Come on.” Bertie tugged my arm as the clapping ended.
So, Dear Reader: Is thee also a suffragist? Does thee think we shall ever gain the vote? And what does thee know of my faith, the Religious Society of Friends? Remember to leave thy address for the postal system known as Email. Oh, and this book is available for pre-ordering wherever books are sold.
Maddie Day creates the Country Store Mysteries and the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries. As Edith Maxwell, this Macavity- and Agatha-nominated author writes the Quaker Midwife Mysteries, the Local Foods Mysteries, and award-winning short crime fiction.
Maxwell is President of Sisters in Crime New England. She lives north of Boston with her beau and two cats, and blogs here, with the other Wicked Cozy Authors, and with the Midnight Ink Writers. You can find her on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, and at her web site, edithmaxwell.com.