The Familiars is set in 1611-1612, Fleetwood is a young noblewoman, she has had multiple pregnancies but none of them have gone to term. She has recently discovered a letter from her doctor to her husband stating that another pregnancy may kill her. Yet she is pregnant again, Richard didn’t care, he would rather have an heir. Fleetwood is desperate to find help, she meets a young midwife, Alice, by chance and their lives become intertwined. When Alice is accused of being a witch Fleetwood tries desperately to save her, it could mean a death sentence for all of them if Alice isn’t there to help with the birth.
“Women carried life and death in their stomachs when they conceived; it was a fact of our existence.”
Fleetwood is treated awfully by her husband, he knows that another pregnancy would kill her but he chose not to tell her and is still obsessed with having a child. Then he ignores her worries and tries to control everything. However there is an air of mystery in the story that makes me eager to read more.
“The king is not a supporter of women trying to make their way in the world any way they can: helping neighbours, and driving off sickness, and trying to keep their children alive.” – Alice
I love that Fleetwood and Alice team up to run away from the witch hunters. It makes me shudder to think what women went through during James I’s reign. The treatment of women in this age makes me so angry.
Fleetwood’s sass knows no bounds! I was so proud of her when she was investigating and trying to save Alice. She is an absolute badass, she’s riding around the countryside, heavily pregnant, threatening people who are lying about Alice. She’s determined and brave in a society that constantly puts women down or tries to kill them.
“The realisation was lapping at my edges again, the knowledge that without Alice, I may as well have a rope tied too.”
This book is very well written, Fleetwood’s feelings and pain are so vivid that I felt everything with her. I wanted so desperately for her to succeed and survive along with Alice. I strongly recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and anyone who loves strong female characters.