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The Popish Midwife

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  88 ratings  ·  33 reviews
In seventeenth-century London, thirteen years after the plague and twelve years after the Great Fire, the restoration of King Charles II has dulled the memory of Cromwell's puritan rule, yet fear and suspicion are rife. Religious turmoil is rarely far from tipping the scales into hysteria.
Elizabeth Cellier, a bold and outspoken midwife, regularly visits Newgate Prison to d
Kindle Edition, 454 pages
Published July 2016 by The Conrad Press
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3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  88 ratings  ·  33 reviews

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Kevin Ansbro

Elizabeth Cellier, the Caped Crusader.

With judicious historical authenticity, Annelisa Christensen presents us with a remarkable tale of mistrust, falsehoods and betrayal, based on real-life events that occurred in 17th century England.

Cape-wearing Elizabeth Cellier, erstwhile exponent of Catholic girl power and righter of wrongs, is fraudulently implicated in a Popish plot to kill King Charles II, of England.
This is a deeply humane book, and I suspect that if you were to ask the author, it was
Nov 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Such a beautifully written historical tale of courage, love, and struggle. I was caught up in the prose. the beauty of the language spoke to me and completely brought me back in history. It was a rarity to see such detail in a book written in the present.

The words that Ms. Christensen used touched me in such a profound way. I loved every aspect of this story. You could project yourself back in time with her scenes. The courtroom scenes were dynamic and riveting. This is one of those books that
Julia Grantham
Oct 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Author Christensen has written a beautiful and poignant true-life story of Elizabeth Cellier, a remarkable woman and midwife, who lived in 17th century London. Cellier was a feisty and courageous woman, who, despite great risk to herself and her family, stayed true to her Catholic faith and her belief in justice. She fought against all odds to expose the truth of deplorable prison conditions and lies against Catholics, believed to be plotting against the King.
I was immediately pulled into 17th
Sheri McInnis
Oct 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Popish Midwife is that rare treat: a true story with all the drama of inspired fiction. The book starts with a quick preface that brings the reader up-to-date on 17th Century London. The Great Fire of 1666, disease, religious upheaval and more. These are dangerous times for anyone – let alone a Catholic (or ‘popish’) midwife like our heroine, Elizabeth Cellier.

The story moves into the first-person as we follow Elizabeth on her way to deliver a baby. As I read, I felt the world transform aro
Nov 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-tours
We first encounter Elizabeth as she takes over from, who can only be described as a butcher midwife attending to an unfortunate woman in labour. This startling scene is a shocking and horrifying lead into the brutal, frightening times of 17th Century England. Being a midwife wasn't the respectable vocation it is today. The only qualification required was to have been present at other births, and then, not all midwives had the best interests of their charges at heart. They often had poor regard f ...more
Nov 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
I had thought I was well versed in English History, it was all about wives, wars, and monarchs needing a male heir. Right? Turns out I was wrong. Mine were just superficial sound bytes, learned at school. The Popish Midwife offered me a view of everyday life in the seventeenth century, a window into the knife-edge that was existence. A real sense of the persecution that came with the flip-flopping of a Nation between religions.

It is a story told through the eyes of the tenacious Elizabeth Cellie
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Based upon the life of a real woman, The Popish Midwife is a compelling narrative of intrigue and the quest for the truth. I feel as if I've walked the streets of 17th century London during this tale and absorbed every aspect of the era, especially the odours. The phrase 'no good deed goes unpunished' could be used to describe Mrs. Cellier's exploits and fortunes. Her resolve and moral compass is a wonderful example of what the human race could be. The world needs more people like her.
Marcee Corn
Nov 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An Engaging story of High Treason, Courage, and Love

‘The Popish Midwife’ by Annelisa Christensen is a beautifully written historical fiction that captures the reader’s attention right from the start.

If you have ever thought that history is boring, take another look at it through the eyes of this talented writer. Christensen’s entertaining, enlightening and horrendous account of life in seventeenth Century England, and in particular in the life of Elizabeth Cellier, will definitely change your m
Mercedes Rochelle
Oct 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
After the restoration of King Charles II, it was very uncomfortable to be a Catholic in England. This is the environment we are immersed in while following the story of midwife Elizabeth Cellier. She finds herself unable to stomach the abysmal conditions of political prisoners and decides to do something about it. She is already outside of polite society because of her profession, looked askance at by one and all—even those she tended, apparently. Her faith exposes her to sanctioned abuse. But o ...more
Dec 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hfvbt
Copy Received from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for an honest review

"The Popish Midwife" by Annelisa Christensen is not a light read, it took me a while to get throught it. Two reasons: the format takes me longer to read and two it is a lengthy read at almost 500 pages. But it is well worth the read. Elizabeth Cellier is a very complex and interesting character. It's hard for me to say if she is a hero or a victim of her time, but she was anything but dull. Coupled with a very complex h
K. C.
Aug 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This excellent novel was obviously a labour of love (pun intended) for the author. It is an extremely well researched and well written book that gives a real sense of the time and place in which the well developed characters weave their story. I also found it a thought provoking book in many ways. In particular, the final chapters made me consider how life can turn on seemingly small events and how the unpredictable and unintended consequences of Elizabeth Cellier's professionalism and conscient ...more
Patricia Marsh
Aug 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Popish Midwife takes us back to a little known period in English history - the 17th-century witch hunt against Catholics whipped up by Titus Oates and the Glorious Revolution a decade or so later. The sights, sounds and smells of the time are well evoked by Christensen in a language which convinces the reader we could be in a coffee house listening to the likes of Samuel Pepys. The novel is narrated by the Popish Midwife herself, who has a story to tell of relevance today, when religious pre ...more
This is the fascinating story of an amazing woman. The author has obviously done a great deal of research on the seventeenth century in general and Elizabeth Cellier in particular. Not knowing anything about Mrs. Cellier, I can't say how true-to-history the story is. It certainly seems plausible, if remarkable.

The story dragged in places for me, and some of it seemed repetitive. However, it kept me reading to the end to find out what happened. I don't read a lot of historical fiction, but this w
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this book, but it just didn't work for me. About a quarter of the way in or a little more, I put the book down because I was just too irritated with the main characters lack of concern for the danger she put her husband and children into. Truly, sometimes you simply have to do what is right and hope like crazy that it all turns out alright in the end, but she was simply careless with the lives of others around her. It bothered me enough to ditch the book.
Annelisa Christensen
Jul 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
(I am giving the true story the rating. It's one I would love everyone to know.)
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Author Christensen has written a beautiful and poignant true-life story of Elizabeth Cellier, a remarkable woman and midwife, who lived in 17th century London. Cellier was a feisty and courageous woman, who, despite great risk to herself and her family, stayed true to her Catholic faith and her belief in justice. She fought against all odds to expose the truth of deplorable prison conditions and lies against Catholics, believed to be plotting against the King.
I was immediately pulled into 17th
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A tale of high treason, prejudice and betrayal
By Annelisa Christensen
5 stars
Cruelty during the middle ages

In seventeenth-century London, thirteen years after the plague and twelve years after the Great Fire, Charles II has been restored to the throne, but King Charles was Catholic and Cromwell was puritan rule and England is being torn apart as the majority of the people do not want to be ruled by Catholics again and there is mayhem everywhere. Elizabeth Cellier is brave, says
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There is a reality to my co-existence with seventeenth-century London: I’m not all that well versed in it. The little information stuffed into my head is probably what most people already know, affairs such as Charles I’s execution; rise of the Commonwealth and Protectorate; and return of Charles II, previously driven into exile following his father’s death in 1649.

Annelisa Christensen’s The Popish Midwife is set against the backdrop of this era’s heir: nearly twenty years into the Restoration a
Viga Boland
Feb 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It's a bold task to take on writing a 400 page plus book based on the life of an obscure English midwife who lived in the 1600s. But that is the challenge AnnaLisa Christensen gave herself with The Popish Midwife, after studying court transcripts about the trial and conviction of the courageous Elizabeth Cellier who dared to write a book disclosing the brutality and inhumane treatment of those imprisoned for even minor offences at Newgate Prison.

The Popish Midwife takes place at the end of the p
Debby Taylor-Lane
Aug 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I have read hundreds of historical novels and The Popish Midwife ranks right up there with the best.

Annelisa Christensen has achieved a major coup in her telling of the incredibly brave, and vividly real, seventeenth century midwife, Elizabeth Cellier. To submerge yourself into The Popish Midwife is to experience life in London under Charles II: to feel the textures of society, smell the odors of a bustling city and hear the chatter of Cellier and those around her. Never have I read a book so a
Oct 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Miss Lyn
Format: Kindle Edition
I love good historical fiction and the true story of Elizabeth Cellier fulfilled my every expectation. Elizabeth is such a kind and noble character that I couldn't help being drawn into her story.
Annelisa Christensen writes of a truer England with horrific dungeons, plots ,treason and false accusations that lead Elizabeth into much trouble.What a brilliant novel! I can't wait to read more from this author.
I received this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Aug 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Popish Midwife tells the story of Elizabeth Cellier, seventeenth century midwife and political activist. Elizabeth's distinctive voice and passion for social justice shine through against great odds, as she faces and boldly challenges the cruelty, injustice and prejudice of the times. A fantastic novel, brilliantly written, and hard to put down - it had me up well past midnight desperate to know the rest of Elizabeth's story.
Leah  St.James
Nov 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical
I haven't read much straight historical fiction in the past--mostly historical romance which, at times, can be a bit thin on facts! So The Popish Midwife was a new experience for me. I was sucked right into the period and the political intrigue of the time, and I quickly decided I was grateful I live when and where I do! Great job of conveying the people's prejudices of the time, told through the voice of one courageous and determined woman.
Paul Scales
Jul 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In a word... Captivating!

The Popish Midwife is an extraordinary read.

From the stench & squalor of Newgate, to the opulent splendour of St James's Palace. You're there, right amongst it, a 17th century time-warp.

Elizabeth Cellier is a woman of high morale fibre, a champion of the people and a victim of circumstance.

A wonderful tale of high treason, love & betrayal.

Paul Scales.
Kate Southey
Jul 30, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
DNF. It’s a very rare day that I don’t finish a book but at 35% in and bored stupid I admitted defeat. The first chapter or two were brilliant but thereafter it was one long round of the midwife saying “they were good catholic men, they didn’t deserve to be hung”
Diana Ridout
Dec 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I consider myself very fortunate to have won this remarkable book in a competition. What an incredible story it turned out to be! With skill and an exceptional depth of research, Annelisa Christensen has told the story of Elizabeth Cellier, Catholic upper class midwife at the time of Titas Oates, who was passionate about not only her profession, but about the plight of prisoners. The story is based on the true story and actual trial transcripts of Cellier and gives this brave woman a voice, a vo ...more
Not bad for a first novel

Sorry I can't gush like many reviewers. I found the basic story interesting, but all the hand-wringing soul searching was very repetitive, and therefore boring. I could certainly understand the reason for the soul searching....I just got tired of reading the same angst-ridden passages over and over and over and...well, you get the picture. About halfway through the book I started to skip those paragraphs and sometimes pages. Then I started to feel like reading this book
Michele Cryer
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bringing the terrifying past into the present.

I really enjoyed reading this book over a number of days and nights. Being a fan of social history I found it of particular interest to myself. The subject matter and her story was fascinating, exciting, gruesome and frightening in turn. I learned things about the period in time that I might not have enjoyed from reading dull text books in my youth, and am grateful for that. I would recommend this for women interested in midwifery of the past, as we
Prudence Thomas
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent historical fiction.

This is a meticulously researched book with a fascinating, likeable cast of characters in an atmospheric setting. I loved it.
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A meticulously researched and well written book, and a page-turner too! Well worth a read.
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Born to a Danish mother and French father (who I discovered to be French, English and Scottish when I did our family tree), I've always considered myself European, though my heart remains in England. Every time I fly back from a holiday, my breath catches when I see the miles and miles of patchwork quilt of green fields and forests. It isn't until we land, I remember the green comes from so much r ...more
“without truth, every lie would become real and would then become the new truth we must live by, and that would not be a world we would wish to live in.” 0 likes
“One day, people might think for themselves, not think what they are told to think! Not do as they are told to do. That day was not this day.” 0 likes
More quotes…