Short Story Review: The Midwife’s Tale by Margaret Frazer

The Midwife’s Tale is part of the Sister Frevisse series by Margaret Frazer.  The tale is told from the viewpoint of the village midwife, Ada Bychurch.

It’s the morning after the frivolities of Midsummer night.  Dame Frevisse and Dame Claire, the nunnery’s infirmarian, had been called to attend the labour of Cisily Fisher, in the village of Prior’s Byfield, along with a number of women from the village.  Once they are no longer required, people start to drift away, including one of the Fisher’s neighbours, Elyn Browster, who lives two cottages along with her husband Jenkyn.

However, moments later, Elyn is back out in the lane, calling in earnest for assistance at her cottage.  They quickly learn that something has befallen Jenkyn in the night.  They find him lying on the ground in the main room of the cottage as if for burial, his skull smashed in.  But he is still alive.  Just.

But what could have happened to him?  Could it have been accident?  Could he have tripped over something and banged his head?  Or is there a more…sinister…explanation?  Sister Frevisse manages to find the answer amidst all the clues.

This is a great little historical murder mystery short story.  The historical setting and the characters together make this an enjoyable read.  I will definitely be interested to read more stories in the Sister Frevisse series.

This short story was found in The Mammoth Book of Historical Detectives, ed. Mike Ashley.

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