Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Midwifery in the 1890s - CHARITY'S BURDEN #bookgiveaway

HALLIE EPHRON:  Today we're welcoming back one of our favorite authors along with the great news that she's out with her newest Quaker Midwife Mystery. She's an Amazon bestselling and Agatha Award nominated author with FIVE(!) series under notched on her belt. She writes pitch-perfect historical with strong, complex female characters. Today she's here to talk about what lit a fire under her to write Charity's Burden.
 
EDITH MAXWELL: Thank you for having me back on Jungle Reds! It’s always a delight to be on the front side of the blog. I will happily send a signed copy of Charity’s Burden, my newest Quaker Midwife Mystery, to one commenter here today.



It was pure chance that I picked 1888 to set a series in. I read a newspaper article about the Great Fire of 1888 in my town of Amesbury, Massachusetts, and a story popped into my head about the Quaker mill girl who solves the mystery of the arson. I wrote that short story, and “Breaking the Silence” was published in Best New England Crime Stories 2014: Stone Cold (Level Best Books, November 2013).


As happens with writers, the setting and characters refused to go away, so I invented the girl’s midwife aunt Rose Carroll, wrote Delivering the Truth, and sold the series to Midnight Ink! The first three books have been nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Historical Novel, including Turning the Tide this year. I’m honored to be again sharing the slate with Rhys.



The last decade of the nineteenth century turns out to be a fascinating era to write about. So many cultural changes were going on. The germ theory of infection is known, so Rose washes her hands and keeps her instruments clean, but there are no lung surfactants for premature babies or antibiotics, and Cesarean section births are quite dangerous. Most babies are still delivered at home by midwives even though lying-in hospitals are starting to spring up. Electricity and telephones are starting to be used but aren’t widespread. Some well-off folks have running water and indoor toilets, although not modest homes like the one Rose lives in. The police don’t yet have fingerprinting or blood typing at their disposal. Train tracks have connected coast to coast and the women’s suffrage movement is gaining momentum. Women’s hems are starting to come up, because it was theorized they were sweeping tuberculosis germs indoors with their long skirts.



Charity’s Burden treats the topic of birth control, which was hugely controversial at the time. Midwife Rose Carroll’s clients come to her with pregnancies, but they also seek her help when they don’t want to have another baby – whether before or after they have conceived yet again.



The highly restrictive Comstock Laws were passed in the 1870s, which made even speaking about preventing pregnancy a crime. Herbalists and others turned to evasive wording in the advertisements for their products, calling them products to regularize women’s cycles and improve their health. Certain practitioners also offered abortions, which of course were life-threatening at the time. I wanted to explore these issues – in the context of a murder mystery, of course. Here’s the book blurb:



The winter of 1889 is harsh in Amesbury, Massachusetts, but it doesn’t stop Quaker midwife Rose Carroll from making her rounds of her pregnant and postpartum mothers. But when Charity Skells dies from an apparent early miscarriage, Rose wonders about the copious amount of blood. She learns that Charity’s husband appears to be up to no good with a young woman. The woman’s mother, who goes by the mysterious name of Madame Restante, appears to offer illegal abortions and herbal birth control. A disgraced physician in town does the same. Charity’s cousin mistakenly thinks he will take control of his father’s estate, part of which was to go to Charity. Rose, who suspects Charity’s death was from an abortion either incompetently or maliciously performed, once again works with police detective Kevin Donovan to solve the case before another life is taken.



I love writing about Rose Carroll, a Quaker in her mid-twenties. She’s an independent business owner and a good listener. She cares very much for her women, and lives out the Quaker values of non-violence, equality, simplicity, and integrity. Her ability to go places the detectives can’t – women’s bedchambers – lets her hear secrets that help her solve crimes.


I’m excited Quaker Midwife Mystery #4 is out, and I am happy to announce the series is moving over to Beyond the Page Publishing with book five. Look for Judge Thee Not to release this fall! There will be at least two more in the series after that. My next Country Store mystery, Strangled Eggs and Ham (written as Maddie Day) comes out June 25.



Readers: What’s your favorite tidbit of history from the second half of the nineteenth century? Favorite historical character, fictional or real? I’m happy to answer questions, too, and I’ll give away a signed copy of Charity’s Burden to one lucky reader.



Edith Maxwell writes the Quaker Midwife Mysteries, the Local Foods Mysteries, and award-winning short crime fiction. As Maddie Day she writes the Country Store Mysteries and the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries. Maxwell, with seventeen novels in print and four more completed, has been nominated for an Agatha Award six times. She lives north of Boston with her beau and two elderly cats, and gardens and cooks when she isn’t killing people on the page or wasting time on Facebook. Please find her at edithmaxwell.com, on Instagram, and at the Wicked Authors blog.


74 comments:

  1. Congratulations on the new book, Edith . . .
    My favorite historical tidbit? The first Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania was on February 2, 1887, starting the tradition of checking the groundhog’s shadow to predict the coming of spring . . . .

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    1. Thanks, Joan. That's a good one - I didn't know Groundhog Day was so old!

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    2. Who knew?!? Wondering whatever possessed them...

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    3. Yes, of course, because that is so logical!

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  2. It's always a great day when Edith has a new book available. I picked up my copy of Charity's Burden over the weekend and I'm looking forward to reading it as time allows.

    I'm glad that the series will be continuing on with a new publisher after the demise of Midnight Ink.

    And I can't wait for the next Country Store mystery as well.

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    1. Thanks, Jay. I hope you love the read. June 25 for Strangled Eggs and Ham!

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  3. Think my favorite tidbit of history from that era would be that the U. S Congress established and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872 for Yellowstone to be the first national park in the U.S. It was the start of us realizing that if we as a people didn't care for this great nation that we wouldn't have anything to turn over to the next generation. The principle still applies. We have so many great resources, places of beauty and treasures on earth but they must be protected and cherish for what they are or they will vanish just like the dinosaurs.

    Absolutely LOVE Rose Carroll and the previous books you've written about her adventures showing the hardships of life and her great achievements for womankind. I would love the opportunity to read "Charity's Burden" and greatly appreciate the chance to win a copy!

    Keep up the great work Edith we love your books - all series!
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

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    1. That was a hugely important milestone, Kay. I'm delighted you love my writing!

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    2. Preserving Yellowstone, a milestone indeed.

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  4. Embarrassed to say that I haven't started this series yet. And the reason sort of responds to the blog prompt: I always think I don't like historical fiction -- right up until I pick one up and read it. You'd think I'd get over that! Honestly, these sound wonderful and I am going to have to pick up Turning the Tide and catch up.

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    1. We all have those kinds of preferences/blind spots! A really good book is a really good book. Period.

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    2. I hope you do, Susan! And - exactly, Hallie.

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  5. Congratulations, Edith! You are a wonder!

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  6. Congratulations Edith! Here's a writing question: Do you write a book from start to finish and then move on to the next, or are you writing more than one at once?

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    1. Thanks, Roberta! I do my best to work on one book at at time, but sometimes that blows up on me. For example, I'm about a fifth of the way into the first draft of my eighth Country Store mystery. But I had to lay it down today to work through the proofs of Judge Thee Not, Quaker Midwife #5. They are due within the week and the WIP isn't due until August 1. Or copyedits will come in for another series, also due sooner than the book. I'll get back to the draft in a couple of days, though.

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  7. I so enjoy your Midwife books so much! It is obvious that you do your research.

    As for an interesting tidbit about the latter half of the 19th century all I can think is how Buffalo Bill took his Wild West show (including a cast of more than 200 and the animals) to perform for the Queen's jubilee. Just the logistics involved boggle my mind! Hope she appreciated it.

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    1. Thanks so much, Judi! Yes, that does strain the imagination. Elephants on a ship? Yikes.

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  8. Congratulations on the new book, Edith! So happy you found a new home for this series.

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  9. Congratulations on the book, Edith! Cant wait to read. My favorite bit of late nineteenth century history is that women committed forty percent of the violent crimes reported in the UK during the period you're writing about. That blew my mind.

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    1. Thank you, Wendall. And, whoa! What an interesting factoid.

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  10. Sorry for the typo! Can't wait to read...

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  11. No tidbit comes to mind. I love this series first because it is interesting and well written and second because of the setting ( my father birth's place ).

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    1. Lovely, Danielle! I'm delighted you love my stories.

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  12. Good morning, Edith! As you know, I'm a huge fan of our Rose Carroll, and am really looking forward to this next book. She is the kind of intrepid young woman I would have loved to have been.

    Right now I have decision burnout brain, and can't think of a thing, but I am in awe of your impressive output in the mystery book realm. Especially when your Quaker midwife books are so detailed and rich in historical references. Do you find that your work as a docent gives you ideas for your next books?

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  13. Thanks so much, Karen. My docent work at the Whittier Home Museum certainly gives me rich detail about Whittier and his daily life. I'm not sure I've gotten ideas for a whole book from it, but I did set a short story there, "Murder in the Summer Kitchen," which was fun.

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  14. First of all, Congratulations to Edith on another book that I’m sure to enjoy. I really fell in love with Historical mysteries when I began reading about the Gilded Age in Alyssa Maxwell’s Newport series and then discovered you, Edith. I think of all that has changed and improved in my lifetime and one big event in history that my parents and grandparents and those of my husbands family lived through was the Panic of 1893: A crash on the New York Stock Exchange that started the “depression.” I’ve heard many personal stories of this time and know the lasting effects it’s had on many! I’ve been personally connected to advances in medication and surgical events and changes during this time and find it fascinating.

    I have not yet purchased Charity’s Burden and would be honored to win this signed copy.
    Looking forward to all future books in every series, Edith.

    Cynthia

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    1. I'll have to look into that crash, Cynthia. I also really like Alyssa's books. Thank you for loving my stories!

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  15. The first Sherlock Holmes story was published in 1891. That's something to celebrate! The first commercial motion picture house opened in New York in 1894 with ten Kinetoscope machines. Cars and airplanes were being built like crazy in the 1890s. All those entrepreneurs! The Dreyfus Affair in France. Wounded Knee massacre in South Dakota. The Spanish-American war. Oil was discovered at Spindletop. Lizzie Borden did her thing. Ellis Island opened. Aspirin was invented. Thank you Wikipedia for the info. What a dynamic time for our country and all over the world.

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    1. So much, such an exciting time! I allude to the invention of aspirin in Judge Thee Not - was just reading the proof page of that section.

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  16. Congrats on another terrific book. I thoroughly enjoy all your series but the Quaker Midwife Mysteries is the most eye-opening. So many things we take for granted or just think of as common sense were new or not in existence.

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  17. Congratulations on this captivating novel. Wonderful! Andrew Carnegie has always been a larger than life man whose origins and then success was fascinating. His libraries and wealth were used to benefit all.

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  18. So true about Carnegie, building libraries far and wide.

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  19. Very topical, even if it's set in the 1800's.

    "the Quaker values of non-violence, equality, simplicity, and integrity" Virtues we all might adopt for a more sane world!

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  20. Your series are unique and special. Congratulations on a fascinating story. Thomas Edison and his many important inventions and patents influenced and had an great impact upon the future.

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  21. Edith, I just had to check your website, because I was thinking, "It's not that long ago she started writing fiction, is it?" And discovered I was right, you've only been at this since 2013! Yet you have seventeen novels in print as well as your (award winning) short stories.

    I am in awe. I really, really really think we need to get you and Jenn together at a conference to teach a session on Getting It Done.

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    1. Sounds good to me! Speaking of Murder, my very first novel (which you kindly blurbed), actually came out in September of 2012, but yeah, not that long ago. Working on #22 now...

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  22. Edith, like Julia, I am in awe of your output!! And I particularly love your Midwife books. Such a wonderful character, such a fascinating period. I'm also a big fan of Call the Midwife and they've just dealt with some of the same issues in recent episodes. Can't wait to read Charity's Burden!

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    1. Thanks so much, Debs! I had no idea you read this series. I am a huge fan of Call the Midwife, of course.

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    2. Edith, I have a fascination with midwifes throughout history. "Call the Midwife" is one of my favorite TV shows. Midwifery is so much more than delivering babies. It's a care and compassion for the mother and baby after the birth, too, with the mother's situation in life. A real sisterhood of caring. I'm behind in you Quaker Midwife series, but I plan on catching up. Charity's Burden sounds so good. I did just recently, as you know, read the first in your new Cape Cod mysteries, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

      And, as for the last decade of the nineteenth century, I'm a big fan. Actually the last decade of the nineteenth and first decade of the twentieth century are favorite time periods for me. My father was born in 1901 and died in 1996, and I so wish I'd talked to him more about all the changes he'd seen in his lifetime. But those 20 years, the 1890s and the first ten of the 1900s, are so full of life changing inventions and events. There's a non-fiction book I have entitled "1908: The Dawn of Flight, the Race to the Pole, the Invention of the Model-T, and the Making of a Modern Nation" by Jim Rasenberger (https://www.amazon.com/America-1908-Flight-Invention-Making/dp/0743280776/ref=sr_1_24?keywords=1901&qid=1555434723&s=books&sr=1-24). Just that title tells you some of the amazing changes that had been in the works before that year and during.

      The 1893 World's Fair in Chicago was an amazing display of change and new inventions. That fair is one of my favorites to look at. It's also the timing of the infamous Dr. H. H. Holmes, whose serial killer activity is revealed in the best-selling book The Devil in the White City. That book is full of interesting information about the 1893 World's Fair, too. But, back to the 1893 changes that the fair featured. Ten of those--the ferris wheel, the dishwasher, the zipper, spray paint, smashed pennies, Cracker Jacks, Aunt Jemima's Pancake Mix, Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer, Wrigley's Juicy Fruit Gum, and commemorative stamps and coins are discussed at this link https://www.toptenz.net/10-everyday-items-brought-us-1893-chicago-worlds-fair.php

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    3. Kathy, so much great stuff happening! New England author Frances McNamara has a great series set in Chicago in that era, and one of her mysteries features the booming film industry. I hope you love Charity's Burden.

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  23. Congratulations on the release of "Charity's Burden". I enjoy reading historical fiction and this sounds like a fascinating book. The 1893 Chicago World's Fair is an interesting time in the 19th century. It's fun to see where the Fair was located in 1893 and what's there now.

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    1. Thanks so much, Dianne. I was just in Chicago but didn't stay long enough to see everything I wanted to, history wise.

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  24. Tidbit: In 1891, 11 Italian Americans were tried and acquitted for the murder of a New Orleans police chief. A vigilante mob lynched all 11 in one of the biggest mass lynchings in American history. One of the lynchers later became Governor, because Louisiana.

    I am also in awe of your productivity. So happy we met all those years ago at Seascape!

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    1. "Because Louisiana" - love it, Ramona! I'm so happy we met, too - and that you have expertly edited ALL the Quaker Midwife Mysteries and made them so very much better.

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    2. And thanks to Hallie and Roberta for running Seascape so we could meet!

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    3. I am honored to play a small role in this series!

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  25. Congratulations, Edith! Happy your series will live on with another publisher--historical mysteries are some of my favorites to read--like time travel!

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  26. In view of the horrific fire at Notre Dame yesterday, I chose to share the Great Seattle Fire from 1889. Most of Seattle burned including the wharfs. The then commercial fire department could not get water pressure to many parts of the city as the water was piped in wooden logs which also burned. The historic Yesler House was protected by water soaked blankets and survived. People put their belongings on ships in the harbor, saving their possessions. The smoke from the fire was seen in Tacoma 45 miles to the southeast. Within 3 weeks Seattle was rebuilding. May the same be true for Paris and their Cathedral.

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    1. Forgot to mention how much I enjoy reading your work, especially the Midwife series.

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    2. Wow, Coralee - I didn't know about the Seattle fire. I'm noodling a new series I want to set in Seattle around 1920 and I'm sure I'll need to know about the fire and rebuilding. I'm so pleased you enjoy this series!

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  27. I don't have a historical tidbit to share, but wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your books. Very happy that there's another Country Store book coming, & can't wait to read the new Midwife book. That series is especially interesting to me since I was a nurse in Labor & Delivery for a short time & considered going back to school to become a nurse-midwife - & I have Quaker ancestors in the Philadelphia area & love learning more about that faith.

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    1. Jean, so many connections! Risa Ripoli, a working nurse-midwife (and huge mystery fan), reads all my manuscripts for the pregnancy and birth details - and so far I haven't had to fix anything (whew).

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  28. The Emancipation Proclamation was to go into effect on January 1, 1863. However, communications being what they were and the war that still raged, news of freedom did not come to Texas (Galveston) on June 19th, 1865. It is a state holiday now in Texas. I spent 4 months in Galveston in 1988 but did not really learn about the holiday upon reading Ralph Ellison's posthumously published in 1999. The book really challenged me to think about the meaning of race in America.

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    1. There's a lot to think about with that, for sure, David.

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  29. Running water was beginning to be in houses. They started digging trenches. I'm new to you and I'm excited to read your books.dbooks.dobooks.dbooks.donakutska7@gmail.com

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    1. Thanks! Yes, some houses had running water. In Amesbury in 1889 it was only the "Captains of Industry" who had it - they ran pipes and pumps to their own houses.

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  30. Charity's Burden looks wonderful, Edith. What fantastic covers. I adore a good historical mystery! Congrats on the release!

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    1. Thanks so much, Jenn. Midnight Ink (actually talented artist Greg Newbold) did a great job with the covers. Beyond the Page has a very good artist on board who very much continued the look and feel of Sheila Connolly's covers for her Orchard series, so I have high hopes.

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  31. My favorite fictional historical character would be Sherlock Holmes. Thanks for the giveaway—your book sounds great! Legallyblonde1961 at yahoo dot com

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  32. As someone who's writing in the 1880s, myself, and who's also a huge fan of Call the Midwife -- I so need to read these! Off to order #1 right now . . .

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  33. Edith, Congratulations! Look forward to reading Charity's Burden. Rose looks like either Kellie Martin or Rory from the Gilmore Girls.

    Love your Quaker midwife series! Questions: Did adoption agencies exist at that time or did the Quaker church handle adoptions?

    Favorite historical character? Not exactly, though there is a place and time from history that I am interested in. I would love to learn more about Martha's Vineyard in the 1800s because that was a place where everyone spoke sign language. There was a big population of Deaf people born there, starting with settlers who came from the Weald of Kent in England. Even people who were not deaf knew Sign Language.

    Love the BBC series Call the Midwife.

    Diana

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  34. Taylor R. WilliamsApril 17, 2019 at 6:54 PM

    I can't wait to read this series - love your other books - trwilliams69(at)msn(dot)com

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  35. Admin....some times when i come or visit your site i feel like not going offline please what is the name of the theme you are using ???

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  36. The Amish are a fascinating group of people. No doubt a huge percent of them do their bests to faithfully adhere to their belief system. However, like all of us they are just human!

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