"Nina Gelbart has achieved something very rare: a penetrating original work of social history that reads like a novel. With marvelous mastery of France's archival records, Gelbart brings to life the eighteenth century's most famous midwife, Madame de Coudray. The vivid details of early modern childbirth are presented in a moving and unforgettable style. And better yet, Gelbart carefully and imaginatively weaves together the story of Coudray within the often colorful aristocratic society that governed France on the eve of its greatest revolution. History just doesn't get much better than this."Gary Kates, author of Monsieur D'Eon Is a Woman
Wry and intelligent. . .Gelbart acquits herself brilliantly with this material, plumbing du Coudray's deviations from bureaucratic boilerplate for the emotional vicissitudes they surely betray, and showing admirable interpretive restraint where the public mask refuses to yield.