Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Reviewing The Secret Healer

As many of you know, I love to read and historical fiction is a genre that I enjoy very much. I just recently finished The Secret Healer by Ellin Carsta. I might have missed this delightful book if it hadn't been an editor's choice in the Kindle First subscription that is a part of my Amazon Prime membership. It was one of the choices for reading in April. I was not disappointed!

From 14th Century Germany

The story takes place during the 1300s in the German towns of Heidelberg and Worms. This was a time in our history that women were not valued for much of anything except as maybe the property of their fathers or husbands. I absolutely adored the main protagonist, Madlen who is the daughter of the cabinet maker in Heidelberg. Madlen may come from humble means but she is above average in her intelligence and is taken under the wing of the local midwife Clara at an early age. The young girl learns the benefits of medicinal herbs from the midwife which is something that the physicians of the time did not use. The physicians were strong on the use of bloodletting; a treatment that was not much good for any illness as we know now. During a rather difficult birth, Madlen accidentally discovers a technique of soothing the over anxious woman during the delivery process. She will find this method helps her sooth many of the people she is helping when they become rather hysterical during their illness. 

An absolutely despicable resident of her hometown accuses Madlen of killing his wife causing her to flee to the town of Worms where she finds her estranged Aunt Agathe. While learning the skills she will need to become a seamstress her Aunt comes down with what is referred to as the coughing sickness. I believe this was the pneumonic plague that did spread across Europe during this time in history. Madlen is able to use her knowledge of medicinal herbs and nurses her Aunt back to health. As the illness spreads around the town she is called upon to help many of the citizens. She saves many lives but there is a problem. She is not a doctor and the church has taken notice of this healer and decides that she is an assistant to the devil. Madlen, who is hiding under an assumed identity from the people of Heidelberg, realizes that she must now hide from the church, too.

There were many things that I loved about this well written and constructed book. Many of the women in the story were strong and intelligent women who had to hide the fact that they were very capable in their skills. Many were good business women but were never given credit for their abilities. At that time in history only a man was given credit for any sort of acumen to business or skills. So, these women worked their fingers to the bone to support their drunken, lazy and often abusive men in secret. Women were not supposed to know how to read or write, they could not own a business, they could not be educated in schools or universities or be heralded for any of their accomplishments. The story does not come off as a strong feminist bashing of men but the oppression of the women of the time is written in a superb way that really resonated with my soul.

There was a wonderful love story incorporated into the pages along with a good representation of life in the 14th century. The suspense of whether dear Madlen would be found out and what would become of her kept me captivated until the very end. I liked the incorporation of early medicine in the story and the superstitions that were strong during that time in history.

All in all, I highly recommend this wonderful book. I think that fans of historical fiction will most assuredly love this book but I also feel that it is one of those books that will appeal to most women. Currently, it can be pre-ordered and will be released on May 1, 2016. It will be available in both digital and paperback forms. 




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

7 comments:

  1. What an excellent review! I love the Kindle First program for Amazon Prime members because it introduces me to books that I otherwise probably wouldn't find on my own (and, of course, they're free for a month). Sounds like you made an excellent choice this month, Bev. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Ah, I love accurate historical fiction! This sounds like a fabulous book and perfect for my next download. I am currently reading about a kitty named Elvis :) I can hardly wait now to start my next book, The Secret Healer.

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    1. How are you enjoying those books with Elvis the cat in them? I loved those books! I think you will really love this book The Secret Healer, Cynthia.

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    2. I am still on the first book Bev. I have found it very intriguing and entertaining. I keep falling asleep though and having to read parts over again. That is not the fault of the book. It is the fault of the reader who reads at bedtime after an exhausting day.

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  3. Somehow I missed this book when I was making my Kindle First selection. I'll have to pay closer attention next time. Sounds like a book I would enjoy reading. Appreciated your review. Thanks!

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  4. The Secret Healer sounds like a very interesting book. Thanks much for this excellent review, without which I probably would have missed this book.

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  5. It sounds very interesting. I probably wouldn't know about this book had you not given it such a thorough review. Maybe I should start taking advantage of my Kindle first privileges.

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