The Frozen River - Ariel Lawhon

The Frozen River

By Ariel Lawhon

  • Release Date: 2023-12-05
  • Genre: Historical Fiction
Score: 4.5
From 756 Ratings


GMA BOOK CLUB PICK • AN NPR BOOK OF THE YEAR • From the New York Times bestselling author of I Was Anastasia and Code Name Hélène comes a gripping historical mystery inspired by the life and diary of Martha Ballard, a renowned 18th-century midwife who defied the legal system and wrote herself into American history.

"Fans of Outlander’s Claire Fraser will enjoy Lawhon’s Martha, who is brave and outspoken when it comes to protecting the innocent. . . impressive."—The Washington Post

"Once again, Lawhon works storytelling magic with a real-life heroine." —People Magazine

Maine, 1789: When the Kennebec River freezes, entombing a man in the ice, Martha Ballard is summoned to examine the body and determine cause of death. As a midwife and healer, she is privy to much of what goes on behind closed doors in Hallowell. Her diary is a record of every birth and death, crime and debacle that unfolds in the close-knit community. Months earlier, Martha documented the details of an alleged rape committed by two of the town’s most respected gentlemen—one of whom has now been found dead in the ice. But when a local physician undermines her conclusion, declaring the death to be an accident, Martha is forced to investigate the shocking murder on her own.

Over the course of one winter, as the trial nears, and whispers and prejudices mount, Martha doggedly pursues the truth. Her diary soon lands at the center of the scandal, implicating those she loves, and compelling Martha to decide where her own loyalties lie.

Clever, layered, and subversive, Ariel Lawhon’s newest offering introduces an unsung heroine who refused to accept anything less than justice at a time when women were considered best seen and not heard. The Frozen River is a thrilling, tense, and tender story about a remarkable woman who left an unparalleled legacy yet remains nearly forgotten to this day.


  • Strength and compassion of Post Revolutionary Midwife

    By dkli210
    Amazing journey of Martha Ballard through marriage, motherhood, Midwifery, and friendships. Equality of women still had long arduous “travails” to overcome.
  • Loved

    By Gerberdeluxe
    Did not want this book to end. So well written in a way that you just feel you knew each character. Lovely to discover at the end that this was based on real people.
  • Simply just wonderful!

    By zbohl
    I couldn’t put it down…the author did such wonderful job of bringing us into Martha Ballard’s life.
  • Loved

    By STompkins66
    Wonderfully written. I felt such a part of Martha’s life. Fascinating!!!
  • Frozen River

    By olddue1
    This was a remarkably enjoyable book. The author created a vivid picture of life in early America, especially for women.
  • An incredible read and characters!

    By AlexBirukova
    You won’t soon forget midwife Martha Ballard. Thank you for telling her story
  • Entertaining from start to finish.

    By molrud
    I loved the time frame of this book. The characters were well developed, and the way their lives interacted was both believable and encouraging I found myself engaged with each and every one of them. Great book!
  • Ayuh, wicked good!

    Captures Maine in a way that charmed me thoroughly.
  • Beyond Excellent and Exciting

    By Shaye bae bae
    I could not put the book down. The writing is absolutely perfect. You can tell it was written during Covid because it is not rushed as so many books are today. It’s scary, full of suspense and so beautiful.
  • Very enjoyable

    By Cut wood
    Good writing, good character, good story. It was interesting to get a glimpse of like in the late 1790s.