I have met Amy Belding Brown through Orchard House in Concord (home of the Alcotts), and I really enjoyed her MR. EMERSON’S WIFE, so I was more than thrilled when I won a copy of FLIGHT OF THE SPARROW through the blog “Louisa May Alcott Is My Passion”!
FLIGHT OF THE SPARROW tells the story of Mary Rowlandson, an early Massachusetts settler who was kidnapped and held as a slave by Nipmuc Indians during the late 1600’s and King Philip’s War.
After a violent (and graphic) attack on their farm, during which many family members are killed, Rowalndson and her three children are taken captive and made to walk many miles, serving as slaves. Her youngest daughter, Sarah, has been seriously injured during the attack and she dies of her injuries not long afterwards. Mary, though devastated, stays strong, however, and fights to keep alive as the Indians suffer through late winter starvation and freezing temperatures. Within weeks, Mary has adjusted to the Native American way of life and actually begins to enjoy it. Being a Puritan, her role as a woman is narrowly defined, with little freedom of thought or action. As an Indian, Mary enjoys much more personal space and freedome in nature. Her two remaining children have adjusted as well, and her son in particular has come to love the Indian way of life. Complicating things is Mary’s relationship with a “Praying Indian”, John Painter. He helps her and becomes a friend, but it is not long before the two realize they are attracted to each other,causing Mary to struggle with her feelings about herself as a married woman and as a Christian. After several months with the Indians, Mary and her two children are ransomed back to her husband and she re-enters English life. However, Mary is changed, and so are her children. Will they ever fit back into their former lives, or have they “become Indian”?
I really enjoyed this book! Belding Brown is a wonderful writer. Her stories flow naturally, and you can easily visualize the setting and action. I had a distinct advantage in visually, however, as Mary Rowlandson was kidnapped from Lancaster, which is the town next to me (actually our town was part of Lancaster originally). I could easily imagine their trail, and then the trips into Boston and Concord. What was also fascinating about this book was Mary’s re-entry into English life. Almost the last third of the book was devoted to this, depicting Mary’s inner turmoil with accepting and adjusting to the Puritan ways again and a fairly loveless marriage. I know this is historical FICTION, so I don’t expect every bit of it to be true, however, Ms. Brown is an acute researcher, so I assume that much of the story is based on the facts she found.
This was a wonderful read and I highly recommend it to those who enjoy reading of this time period.
Thank you, Susan, for my copy from your blog!