The Frozen River



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In “The Frozen River,” bestselling author Ariel Lawhon delivers a captivating tale woven from the threads of history, inspired by the remarkable life and diary of Martha Ballard, a daring midwife of the 18th century. This historical thriller, celebrated by GMA Book Club and named an NPR Book of the Year, shines a light on a woman who defied societal norms and inscribed her name into the annals of American lore.

Set against the backdrop of Maine in 1789, the story unfolds with the discovery of a man entombed in the icy embrace of the Kennebec River. Called upon to investigate, Martha Ballard, with her intimate knowledge of the town’s secrets gained through her roles as midwife and healer, embarks on a quest for truth that leads her deep into the heart of her community. Her diary, a meticulous record of Hallowell’s births, deaths, and misdeeds, becomes pivotal when it reveals the sinister details of a purported assault by two esteemed townsmen, culminating in the chilling death of one.

Challenged by a physician’s conflicting verdict, Martha finds herself navigating a labyrinth of lies and prejudices. With the trial looming and the town divided, she remains unwavering in her pursuit of justice, even as her findings threaten to implicate those closest to her.

Ariel Lawhon has masterfully crafted a narrative that not only pays homage to a historical figure’s courage and tenacity but also addresses themes of loyalty, justice, and the power of a woman’s voice in a time when silence was expected. “The Frozen River” is both a gripping mystery and a profound exploration of Martha Ballard’s indelible impact, celebrating a legacy of resilience and integrity that, though nearly lost to history, resonates with timeless relevance.


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