The Scarlet Ribbon
If you are into obstetrics this is the book for you. It begins with a caesarean section (performed with a penknife) and continues on to various other complications of childbirth, with in between an operation for haemorrhoids (performed with the help of a handful of leeches), an amputation and an outbreak of measles. Since this is the early 18th century, the medical procedures are often rudimentary and sometimes bizarre, and the outcome for the patients is often unfavourable.
The novel follows the career of a young Irish doctor who, after the death of his wife in childbirth, devotes himself to becoming a man/midwife and trains in Paris and London before returning to Dublin to raise the standard of care during delivery. There is also a love triangle, with a wealthy English socialite and a simple Irish girl competing for his heart. Guess who wins!
This is one of the first two fiction titles published by the History Press of Ireland. The book throws a different light on Irish history to most Irish fiction. Ireland is not portrayed as a victim nation: instead we see Dublin as the wealthy and sophisticated ‘second city of the British empire’ at the cutting edge of science. I look forward to forthcoming titles.