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The Widow's War

The Widow's War Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In a small Cape Cod village in 1761, one woman is about to engage in the struggle of her life, defying her family, friends, and neighbors in a fight for her freedom that resonates even today. . . .

When was it that the sense of trouble grew to fear, the fear to certainty? When she sat down to another solitary supper of bread and beer and pickled cucumber? When she heard the second sounding of the geese? Or had she known that morning when she stepped outside and felt the wind? Might as well say she knew it when Edward took his first whaling trip to the Canada River. . . .

Lyddie has long been the wife of Edward Berry, a well-liked and successful whaler in Satucket Village, Massachusetts. Married for twenty years, Lyddie is used to the trials of being a whaling wife — her husband's sudden departures, when whales are sighted in the bay; his long absences at sea, when she must run the house herself; the constant fear that one day Edward will simply not come home. But when the unthinkable does happen and Edward is lost at sea, Lyddie finds that she must bear not only the grief of losing her husband but also the insult of losing her autonomy. As a widow, she finds herself cast into society's cellar, her property and rights now at the whim of her nearest male relative, who happens to be her daughter's husband.

With her son-in-law — who was never Lyddie's first choice for her daughter — implacable and hostile, Lyddie realizes she cannot live under his roof and under his decrees. Refusing to bow to both her “guardian” and the societal and legal pressures brought to bear upon her, Lyddie finds that defying one rule emboldens her to defy another . . . and another. As she moves back into the house she shared with Edward — the house she is entitled to use only one-third of now — and begins to figure out how she'll make a living on her own, she finds that her defiance earns her nothing but the abuse of friends and neighbors and puts her home and her family at risk. Ultimately, Lyddie must decide how much she values her personal freedom and how willing she is to become estranged from those she loves.

While conjuring the hearths and salt air of eighteenth-century colonial America, The Widow's War captures a timeless human longing. With rich, realistic characters, Sally Gunning weaves a tale of a woman's journey to understand herself and her world, and her place in that world. Honest and moving, The Widow's War is a stunning work of literary magic, a spellbinding tale from an assured and gifted writer.

Review:

"Mystery author Gunning (Fire Water) moves to literary historical with this provocative tale of a whaling widow determined to forge a new life in colonial Cape Cod. When Lyddie Berry's husband drowns in 1761, her grief is compounded by the discovery that he's willed her the traditional widow's share — one-third use, but not ownership, of his estate. Lyddie's care, and the bulk of the estate, have been entrusted to their closest male relative, son-in-law Nathan Clarke, husband to their daughter Mehitable and a man used to ordering a household around. Lyddie's struggle to maintain a place in her radically changed home soon brings her into open conflict with an increasingly short-tempered Nathan and his children from two previous marriages. Gunning infuses the story with suspense and intrigue, as Lyddie's plight brings her into the orbit of local Indian Sam Cowett; community censure then brings her an ally in sympathetic lawyer Ebeneezer Freeman. Gunning resists easy generalizations and stereotypes while the story pulls in 18th-century law and Anglo-Indian relations, but the dull period dialogue, of which there is a great deal, reads awkwardly. Yet she makes Lyddie's struggle to remake her life credible and the world she inhabits complex." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"With all the recent talk about the illicit use of fiction in nonfiction, little has been said about the reverse: the occasional necessity or desire to report real events in a novel. History may provide the underpinning upon which a novel is based, or fiction may underscore an important character or event in a given era. Sally Gunning, in 'The Widow's War,' seamlessly does both. Skillfully employing... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Synopsis:

When her husband is lost in a whaling disaster, Lyddie Berry finds her status as a widow is vastly changed. Her son-in-law sets out to strip her of everything she and her husband worked for, but she refuses to bow to societal and legal pressures.

About the Author

Sally Gunning, a history buff specializing in the eighteenth century, lives with her husband in Brewster, Massachusetts, in an old cottage not far from Cape Cod Bay.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780060791575
Subtitle:
A Novel
Publisher:
William Morrow
Author:
Gunning, Sally
Author:
by Sally Gunning
Subject:
History
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
Widows
Subject:
Historical
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
20060207
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 19.84 oz

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

The Widow's War
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 320 pages William Morrow & Company - English 9780060791575 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Mystery author Gunning (Fire Water) moves to literary historical with this provocative tale of a whaling widow determined to forge a new life in colonial Cape Cod. When Lyddie Berry's husband drowns in 1761, her grief is compounded by the discovery that he's willed her the traditional widow's share — one-third use, but not ownership, of his estate. Lyddie's care, and the bulk of the estate, have been entrusted to their closest male relative, son-in-law Nathan Clarke, husband to their daughter Mehitable and a man used to ordering a household around. Lyddie's struggle to maintain a place in her radically changed home soon brings her into open conflict with an increasingly short-tempered Nathan and his children from two previous marriages. Gunning infuses the story with suspense and intrigue, as Lyddie's plight brings her into the orbit of local Indian Sam Cowett; community censure then brings her an ally in sympathetic lawyer Ebeneezer Freeman. Gunning resists easy generalizations and stereotypes while the story pulls in 18th-century law and Anglo-Indian relations, but the dull period dialogue, of which there is a great deal, reads awkwardly. Yet she makes Lyddie's struggle to remake her life credible and the world she inhabits complex." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , When her husband is lost in a whaling disaster, Lyddie Berry finds her status as a widow is vastly changed. Her son-in-law sets out to strip her of everything she and her husband worked for, but she refuses to bow to societal and legal pressures.

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