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Hardcover The Midwife's Apprentice Book

ISBN: 0395692296

ISBN13: 9780395692295

The Midwife's Apprentice

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Format: Hardcover

Condition: Good

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Book Overview

1996 Newbery Medal Winner From the author of Catherine, Called Birdy comes another spellbinding novel set in medieval England. The girl known only as Brat has no family, no home, and no future until she meets Jane the Midwife and becomes her apprentice. As she helps the sharp-tempered Jane deliver babies, Brat--who renames herself Alyce--gains knowledge, confidence, and the courage to want something from life: "A full belly, a contented heart, and...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

No surgarcoating here, folks

So often in modern fictional literature, the medieval age has been glamorized into a beautiful, romantic time. But this book is here to tell a grittier and more accurate story. Life was dirty, smelly, hard and short, especially if you weren't upper class. Those are the facts, there was happiness, sure, but it wasn't wrapped up in a tidy package. Our heroine, (eventually self-named Alyce) is homeless and has only herself to depend on, until the midwife takes her in. It's not a gesture of kindess, but rather business sense. Jane the midwife can use Alyce for hard labor, and pay her with meager portions of food and a roof over her head. Alyce is a smart gal, even though she originally can't read or write, (very common if you were a peasant) and she learns the business, despite her 'boss' trying to keep her ignorant as to avoid eventual competion. In the meantime, Alyce endears herself to the majority of the village, though it wasn't overnight, trust me. Her best friend is her cat purr, whom sticks with her through thick and thin. There is a village boy Jack who at first makes her life a living hell, but becomes a friend, and probably a potential love interest someday. (But that's just a guess, and the romantic in me talkng.) I won't give any more away about the plot, and trust me, there's a lot more to it than that. It's a simple, human story, about a not so pretty once upon a time. I first read it when I was twelve, and it's been a favorite every since. It's about starting with nothing, and making a path for yourself. I wouldn't mind having half Alyce's pluck, myself.

Kids, don't try this at home

I was very taken with this story. This tale follows the trials and tribulations of a young girl (Beetle) in early medieval times. Finding herself apprenticed to the local midwife, the girl learns the tricks of the trade, even while gaining a little more wit and confidence in herself. The heroine is ignorant at the beginning and, quite realistically, does not suddenly end the book with a head full of knowledge and wisdom in everything she does. The arc of this book is especially remarkable. Following Beetle's successful delivering of a calf she also manages to deliver a baby to a poor woman that the official midwife left. Interestingly, this doesn't mean that Beetle is suddenly endowed with perfect midwifing abilities. Failing to deliver another child, she must rely on her mentor once again, crushing her burgeoning ego. The moral, that nothing is easy and that you must work at what you want, is a good one. There were some slightly odd moments in the book. The midwife is described as being an envious/jealous type who cannot abide the notion of having a rival. Yet she is overheard later in the book, almost praising the girl's abilities. Still, this is a small quibble. I enjoyed reading about the girl's progress. It would be wonderfully paired with "Crispin: The Cross of Lead". Both stories follow ignorant orphans who learn a new profession and end their stories by going into the respective honest professions they desire. The time periods are not far off either. This book may or may not read aloud well. I don't know. There are some touchy moments (the near rape of Beetle by drunken boys, the midwife's affair with the baker, the well described births) that might make the squeamish (or their parents) uncomfortable. Nonetheless, I found this an important book and one worth remembering.

The Midwife's Apprentice

I really liked the way this book portrayed the period that it was written in. From the filthy surroundings to the bad health care to the extreme superstition, not a detail was missed. This book also shows that with a small chance and a lot of courage, you can make anything out of yourself. Here's how the plot went:Beetle was living on the street the night she decided to use the dung heap for a bed. The heap provided warmth, and, in the morning, a day's work and some food from the local midwife, Jane Sharp. Soon, that one day turns into months, as Beetle becomes the midwife's apprentice. Eventually, she gets a new name, Alys, and a new status. But all is not well, for failure comes knocking at Alys's door, and instead of facing it, she decides to run away. She goes to an inn, and here, with the help of her cat and a scribe, she learns that she is smart, she is pretty, and that maybe failure her failure wasn't so bad after all.

Excellent, realistic medieval fiction

While I believe that Karen Cushman's first book, Catherine, Called Birdy, is a better book, this novel has considerable merit. Cushman makes no effort to glamorize the Middle Ages, as many writers do. Her account is realistic and thought-provoking. In response to another viewer, who stated that this book should be avoided - "I think, in a time when our youth are struggling to find a healthy self-image and healthy relationships with others, this is a book that should be avoided" - I think this reviewer really doesn't see the larger picture. This is how life was, and I think teenagers do not want their literature to lie to them. Life isn't always pretty. Not all the people who lived in the Middle Ages had money, or even morals. That is true today as well. I think a young adult reader is capable of reaching a conclusion about a character's motives and morals without our help. More than anything else, this book will really teach readers about REAL history.

A wonderful book!

Although I can't honestly say that it was as good as " Catherine, Called Birdy ", " The Midwife's Apprentice " was just as well written, and full of fascinating details. Karen Cushman creates an extremely realistic character, Alyce, who the reader can easily sympathise with. An orphan living in the 1400s, she struggles along, trying to find a place for herself in an unfriendly world. I hope you enjoy this novel as much as I do! ( If it matters to you, I'm 14, but first read " The Midwife's Apprentice " when I was 11).
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