Tuesday, December 30, 2014

REVIEWS--historical novels of the 17th century

Reviews by Christy K Robinson

This review is from: Rebel Puritan (A Scandalous Life Book 1) by Jo Ann Butler

Before the Founding Fathers, the Founding Great-Grandparents:
In recent political chatter, Americans have heard much about the Founding Fathers and what they "must have meant" in their books, tracts, and personal letters about liberties and civil rights. For many of those contemporary speakers, the buzzwords are just hot air, not serious research into the characters and real-life situations of the Founding Fathers.

News flash: America's Founding Fathers came from a place of restriction, oppression and punishment, against which their parents and grandparents struggled to overcome. They lived with the poison fruit of a religio-political (church-state) coalition, which is ALWAYS a terrible environment, and a place where spying on and reporting on one's neighbor was encouraged. They were third- and fourth-generation descendants of the pioneers of the 1630s Great Migration from Great Britain to America, those who laid their lives and fortunes on the altar for principles' sake. They knew, first-, second-, and third-hand, what they were fighting for. They didn't need buzzwords and talking points.

Rebel Puritan (A Scandalous Life Book 1) is the first installment of a biographical-fiction trilogy on Herodias Long, a child bride who emigrated to Massachusetts Bay Colony with her husband. Herodias was the ancestor (by DNA or by her influence) of the Founding Fathers.

The author, a genealogist, archaeologist, and researcher, has brought to life not only a young woman who eventually became the ancestor of countless thousands, but the surroundings, culture, and senses of 17th-century England and New England. Herodias Long survived a bubonic plague epidemic, domestic abuse, extreme conditions in the Little Ice Age, hard physical labor, and repeated childbirth, which was a significant cause of death in that era.

The author tells the story engagingly, in clear prose, so it makes for a quick read, as other reviewers have noted. She blends facts and "probables" into a biographical novel you'll remember for a long time.

This review is from: The ReputedWife (A Scandalous Life Book 2) by Jo Ann Butler
 Shame on me, for waiting more than a year and half to review this EXCELLENT book. I gave it a five-star rating in Goodreads, and thought my work was done.

The Reputed Wife is not only a thrilling story of real people in early-colonial Rhode Island, but because it's written by antiquarian/archaeologist/genealogist Jo Ann Butler, it accurately depicts the culture and scenery of the mid-17th-century. I would certainly add "writer/author" to those descriptors, because Butler's prose are clean and clear, and draw the reader into the picture effortlessly. (Well, effortlessly on your part--good writing is hard work.)

As I said in my review of Butler's first book in the trilogy, Rebel Puritan (A Scandalous Life Book 1), the story is about Herodias Long, who survived many situations that would traumatize people of our day. Out of that strength, Herodias finds the wherewithal to take her infant daughter and a teenage helper, and walk through wilderness to the Massachusetts town where she'd once lived, and commit civil disobedience by speaking against the governor and ruling magistrates and ministers, in defense of the Quakers who were being tortured and imprisoned. For that sedition (there was no freedom of speech, religion, or assembly), and particularly for being a woman reviling men, she and the teenage girl were stripped nude to the waist and whipped 10 stripes with a three-knot leather whip. That's not a few welts like you might have gotten on your backside as a naughty child. These were huge wounds that left hideous scars for life. Herodias knew it beforehand.

Even at 400 pages, The Reputed Wife is a fast read because it's so well-written, and it's suitable for teens through adults, men and women.

Hie thyself to the "buy-now" button for the ebook, or even better, go to the Rebel Puritan website and get the paperback. (When reading history and historical fiction, books win over Kindle because you can go to either end instantly, for references, maps, and other resources.)

This review is from: The Traitor’s Wife/The Wolves of Andover: A Novel by Kathleen Kent
 I've read both of Kent's books about Salem "witch" Martha Carrier, and greatly admired her writing style, descriptive powers, and suspenseful plots. In a timeline of the 17th century, The Heretic's Daughter: A Novel is actually the sequel to her other book, Traitor's Wife/Wolves of Andover (same book, different titles), which tells the young-adult life of Martha Carrier.

Though the author is a descendant of Martha Carrier, that doesn't mean she was born with the historical research implanted in her brain, and you'll see that Kent has successfully married research with excellent storytelling.

Kathleen Kent's novels are magical without being occultic. I was particularly struck at the use of imagery and symbolism, which were properly subtle rather than sensational. Read them both!

Suitable for teens through adults.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Ghost of Christmas Future

Ghost of Christmas Future
Perfect Passive

Ghost of Christmas Future
Perfect Subjunctive

Santa says,  

There, I feel better now.