Fuhrer's stories are headed with such titillating titles as "A Just Retribution," the story of a prominent businessman's mistress who, after giving birth to her lover's child, "went from bad to worse, and finally took to smoking opium as a means to relieve her gnawing conscience, ending her days prematurely." Fuhrer was at the service of the high and mighty and desperate, and from her vantage point in the delivery room she offers remarkable insight into the most intimate life of Montreal.
Originally published in 1881, The Mysteries of Montreal is fully reprinted with an introduction by Peter Ward. Ward illuminates the life of Fuhrer and of midwives in Victorian Canada. He traces the role of the midwife through the ages and, placing Mrs. Fuhrer in the context of her times, discusses birth practices in a Canadian setting. As well, he examines the memoirs as a form of Canadian literature, assessing their reflections on 19th century society. As a result the book operates on more than one level. It is not only a midwife's recollections, but also an assemblage of gossip, moral tales, stories of courtship and birth practices, and even mild pornography.
Students of Canadian social history will be interested in the memoirs for their information on 19th century morals and values. The book will also appeal to students of medical history, women's studies, and Canadian literary criticism.