Charity’s Burden By Edith Maxwell: Review/Giveaway/Interview

Apr 27, 2019 | 2019 Articles, Kathleen Costa, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Kathleen Costa

This week we have a review of the latest Quaker Midwife Mystery by Edith Maxwell and an interesting interview with Edith. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Charity’s Burden, and a link to purchase it from Amazon and from an indie bookstore where a portion goes to help support KRL.

Charity’s Burden: A Quaker Midwife Mystery By Edith Maxwell
Review by Kathleen Costa

In April 2016, Edith Maxwell introduced Delivering the Truth, the first book in her Quaker Midwife Mystery series, set in an 1888 Massachusetts mill town. Rose Carroll, a young midwife, attends women of any status or class to provide a safe environment to deliver their babies, but she also becomes privy to their particular situations often leading her to keep confidences, to keep secrets. But, confidences can be problematic, and secrets can lead to murder. Through the lens of the late nineteenth century this series focuses on issues of women’s reproductive rights (such as they are), social injustices, class conflicts, and criminal events putting young Rose in the middle as an amateur detective defending herself and others she feels are innocent. Historical figures, like Quaker poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier and suffragette leader Elizabeth Candy Stanton, and true to the era personalities play a direct or peripheral role adding realism to this cozy historical mystery.

YouTube – Quaker Midwife Mystery Walking Tour (4:50)

A Quaker Midwife Mystery
1—Delivering the Truth (2016)
Winner of the IPPY Silver Medal for mystery, nominated for both a Macavity and Agatha Award for Best Historical Novel, and named Amesbury, MA’s 2016 All-Community Read
2—Called to Justice (2017)
Nominated for the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Historical Novel.
3—Turning the Tide (2018)
Nominated for the 2019 Agatha Award for Best Historical Novel!
4—Charity’s Burden (2019)

Charity’s Burden earns 5/5 Midwife Visits…Engaging and Compelling!

Rose has been called on an emergency to the home of fellow Quaker Charity Skells. She is in a great deal of stress, bleeding profusely, and appearing to be miscarrying her latest pregnancy. At thirty-two years old, she is the mother of five, the oldest only nine years old, having only three months ago delivered early a baby too small to survive. Rose quickly gets Charity into her buggy and races to the hospital; in her delirium she makes some curious comments. “She warned me not to go.” Sadly the blood loss was too severe and Charity passes. Rose’s niggling feeling would go away, and rightfully so, the autopsy proves her suspicions…an illegal and poorly performed termination. But, Charity’s tragic circumstances and fate, is only the tip of the iceberg. Her husband? Other family members and friends? A disgraced doctor? Society? Thank goodness the community, especially women, has Rose who does not ignore what is right. mystery

Mesmerizing! Edith Maxwell has created a compelling series following a young Quaker woman with all the extraordinary insight into the Quaker community. Not Amish. The families enjoy many of the comforts of the day with electricity and the new telephone, but speak, as you would expect, with all the proper thee-s and thy-s. This fourth book with its fascinating drama/murder mystery, deals with some contemporary issues wrapped up in nineteenth-century society. And although women have since 1888 progressed gaining rights and privileges for which their great- and great-great grandmothers could only wish, readers do see glimpses into their lives, their struggles that might make some appreciate those rights and privileges a bit more. The vivid descriptions of the harsh winters and some harsher personalities make this a “can’t put down” experience. I was blown away by the twists and turns and the surprising, but satisfying, end. I do find Rose to be the perfect heroine illustrating a strong personality, admirable and grounded in her convictions and sense of family, but she, too, struggles with the constraints put on women. Clever. Compelling. This book will undoubtedly earn Edith Maxwell another award nod.

Be a Big Edith Maxwell/Maddie Day Fan!
Macavity and Agatha-nominated author Edith Maxwell also writes the popular five-book Local Foods Mysteries series set on an organic farm, as well as Agatha-nominated and award-winning short crime fiction. As Maddie Day, Edith writes the wildly popular five-book Country Store Mysteries, with book six Strangled Eggs and Ham releasing in June, 2019, and the new foodie mystery Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries. She also wrote two under the name Tace Baker-Lauren Rousseau Mysteries: Bluffing is Murder and Speaking of Murder.

Kathleen Costa is a long-time resident of the Central Valley, and although born in Idaho, she considers herself a “California Girl.” Graduating from CSU-Sacramento, she is a 35+ year veteran teacher having taught in grades 1-8 in schools from Sacramento to Los Angeles to Stockton to Lodi. Currently Kathleen is enjoying her retirement revitalizing hobbies along with exploring writing, reading for pleasure, and spending 24/7 with her husband.

Interview with Edith Maxwell:

Edith: First, let me thank you for these thoughtful and challenging questions. I’m delighted to be interviewed for Kings River Life Magazine.

KRL: Thanks for the kind words! How long have you been writing?

Edith: I got serious about writing a novel in 2009. Charity’s Burden is my seventeenth published novel.

KRL: When did your first novel come out? What was it called, and will you tell us a little about it?

Edith: Speaking of Murder released in September of 2012 under the pen name Tace Baker. The murder of a talented student at a small new England college thrusts linguistics professor Lauren Rousseau, a determined Quaker with an ear for accents, into the search for the killer. Her investigation exposes small town intrigues, academic blackmail, and a clandestine drug cartel that now has its sights set on her.


Edith Maxwell

KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense? If not, what else have you written?

Edith: I wrote fiction as a child and have spent my entire life writing in some form, including academic writing, free-lance journalism, and software documentation. I took up writing mysteries in the mid nineteen-nineties when my younger son, now thirty, went off to kindergarten. As an adult, I’ve never considered writing any other kind of fiction than mysteries.

KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series? Please tell us a little about the setting and main character for your most recent book.

Edith: I live in a historic mill and factory town in northeastern Massachusetts, and my Quaker midwife Rose Carroll came to me after I read a news article about the Great Fire of 1888, which burned down most of the world-famous carriage factories here in Amesbury. In Charity’s Burden, my 2019 release, Rose suspects that a mother-to-be’s reputed cause of death (early miscarriage) is at odds with the symptoms she experienced. I then went on to research birth control and abortion in that era and found the facts both fascinating and horrifying. How could I not use that topic as a theme for a book?

KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?

Edith: I write novels about mysteries that need to be solved. Each book also includes an underlying theme on another, deeper topic, whether it be societal, moral, ethical, emotional, or all of the above – but only as it serves the story of the crime and its solving. In every book, I want readers to ponder what would push an ordinary person over that extreme line-of-no-return to kill their fellow human.

KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?

Edith: I left my most recent day job writing software manuals six years ago to pursue fiction full time. I am at my desk writing by seven AM every day but Sunday. I work all morning, go for my power walk, have lunch, and usually spend the afternoon writing blog posts (like this one), doing accounting, arranging speaker events, or doing one of the other many tasks of a full-time author.

KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?

Edith: I outline only minimally. I write in Scrivener, which lets me annotate every scene with a quick mention of day, time, location, who is in it, and what happens. I confess to always getting bogged down in the middle, but after completing twenty-one novels, I now know I’ll get through and make my way to the end.

KRL: If you had your ideal, what time of day would you prefer to write?

Edith: My ideal is my practice: early morning, all morning, every morning.

KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?

Edith: Sure. I gave up after fifty agent rejections for my first novel and turned to small presses. Even then, I had to run through one fraudulent press, one who didn’t want to negotiate anything on the contract, and one that closed before we reached publication. I was lucky enough to be approached by an agent during that period who wanted to work with me on series for big New York publishers. He still represents me.

KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?

When I was working full time, raising two sons, and dealing with an unhappy marriage, I kept honing my short story chops. I submitted over and over to Level Best Books, a small New England Press that published an annual anthology of short crime fiction. I got quite a few rejection letters, but they had nice notes including encouragement like, “You write very well. Please keep submitting and don’t give up!” I took that to heart.

KRL: Most interesting book signing story-in a bookstore or other venue?

Edith: After I had several books out, I was invited to speak at a local library. They publicized it. The weather was not inclement. I showed up on time. Exactly one lady sat in their big function room. The librarian didn’t even come in. I pulled up a chair opposite my single fan, we had a nice chat for half an hour, and I sold her three books! You just never know.

KRL: Future writing goals?

Edith: I‘m under contract to write three books a year in three series, so my primary goal is to meet my deadlines. But I also have an idea for a series set near Santa Barbara I want to write (female vintage auto mechanic who lives in adobe in an abandoned orange grove – I’m a 4th-generation Californian who worked as a grease monkey in the 70s…). I’m noodling ideas for a darker domestic suspense standalone, too.

KRL: Writing heroes?

Edith: So many, so little time! My good friend Sheila Connolly, who showed me it IS possible to write more than three cozy mysteries a year and to make enough at it to buy yourself an Irish cottage. My brilliant elders (as in prior published, not in age, necessarily) in Sisters in Crime New England, among them Hallie Ephron, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Kate Flora, Roberta Isleib, and Julia Spencer-Fleming, who have given so generously of their time to mentor, encourage, and blurb me. Let us not forget the great Agatha Christie, who made my genre possible.

KRL: What kind of research do you do?

Edith: For a historical series? A lot! I need to know about language, carriages, daily life, medical practices, Quaker life, politics of the era, cultural attitudes, police procedure, cooking, and so much more. That is, everything.

KRL: What do you read?

Edith: I read crime fiction written by women featuring female protagonists, almost exclusively.

KRL: Favorite TV or movies?

Edith: Call the Midwife, of course! Other than Masterpiece Theater, I don’t watch television.

KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?

Edith: First, plant that butt in the chair and those fingers on the keyboard. You can’t fix what you haven’t written, and you can’t sell what you haven’t fixed. Write the best book you can.

Then find your tribe. Search out other writers who write like you do, who might know a little bit more about the field than you, who are traveling the same path. I am hugely grateful to have landed with my Wicked Authors “blogmates.” Sure, we blog together every weekday, but we’re also each other’s cheerleaders, safety nets, and peer educators. I hope you’ll join us on the blog and on our Facebook group, The Wickeds.

KRL: Anything you would like to add?

Edith: Book #3 in this series, Turning the Tide, is nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Historical Novel, making it the third in a row in the series to receive this honor. Look for Quaker Midwife #5, Judge Thee Not to release this fall from Beyond the Page Publishing. The book treats a theme of discrimination against differently abled people, against lesbians, against those traveling outside the norms of the time – all in the service of the mystery. I am under contract for at least two more books in the series after that.

I also write for Kensington Publishing as Maddie Day. Strangled Eggs and Ham, Maddie’s sixth book in the Country Store Mysteries, will be out in June. Murder on Cape Cod has been a very popular sell at Barnes & Noble this year, too. I’m looking forward to writing the next Quaker Midwife Mystery this fall. Rose and David (Will they or won’t they be married by then? Stand by for news…) travel to West Falmouth on Cape Cod, which was a hotbed of Quakers at the time, to visit her two elderly aunts. Sure enough, both a pregnant woman and a murder pop up!

KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

Edith: I hold a long dusty black belt in karate and an even dustier PhD in linguistics.

KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook?

Edith: Please find me at, and on Facebook, Instagram, on Twitter, and at the Wicked Authors blog.

To enter to win a copy of Charity’s Burden, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “charity,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 4, 2019. U.S. residents only. If entering via comment please include your email address. If entering via email be sure to include your mailing address in case you win. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on iTunes and Google Play. A new episode went up this week featuring Boxes in the Basement by Kathi Daley, and early next year Edith Maxwell will be featured.

Use this link to purchase the book & a portion goes to help support KRL & indie bookstore Mysterious Galaxy:

You can also use this link to purchase the book on Amazon. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the link:

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases using those links. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Sounds different.

  2. Wonderful interview. Fabulous feature and giveaway.Great author whose series is captivating. Thanks.

  3. Thanks for all this info and the chance to win! lindaherold999(at)gmail(dot)com

  4. Love this series.

  5. What an interesting interview! Thanks for featuring Edith Maxwell and Charity’s Burden on your blog ~

  6. This looks like a book that would be read numerous times at our house. Thanks for the chance to win a copy! crs(at)codedivasites(dot)com

  7. Sounds really interesting love to read it.

  8. “Charity’s Burden” sounds like an interesting book. I don’t know much about the Quakers and would enjoy reading and learning about them.

  9. I am truly looking forward to getting Charity’s Burden as the three previous books have been amazing. EDITH deserves lots of praise an 5 star reviews for all of her books! Very nice spotlight!

  10. Love this series and looking forward to this latest installment.

  11. I’ve been following this series.
    Want to keep up with it.
    thanks for the offer of the

  12. Looks like a great read. Thanks for the chance! JL_Minter (at) hotmail (dot) com

  13. We have a winner!


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