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Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Book Review: Beheld by TaraShea Nesbit

I love a good historical novel, and you rarely encounter one set in early colonial days, so that pulled me in right from the start. Set only ten years after the Mayflower landed, we have two narrators--the second wife of one of the leaders of the colony, and the wife of an outsider, the pair of them having come over as indentured servants, not as Quakers.

The language is stilted and evocative of the overly formal, antique style of the era. One woman is not sure about her husband, about what exactly happened to his first wife, her friend, and about how to act in her new community. The other woman is a rebel, defiant and sure, standing up for herself and her husband.

A new ship has entered the harbor. There must be a big dinner, sapping their resources, to welcome newcomers (and a couple of oldcomers) to the settlement. There is a land dispute. And a body.

I was expecting a more traditional mystery set in these colonial times and the book isn't that at all. There's no mystery except what will result from it. There is a lot of preamble, setting up the atmosphere and relationships and for a long while you are wondering who is going to kill who, as there is a lot of hatred and mistrust. In this book you really feel as if you walk amongst the colonials in a way I haven't encountered before. And the women's voices, as awkward as they sound in this day, truly immerse you in the 1600s.

This book is published by Bloomsbury, which is distributed by Macmillan, my employer.

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