William Morrow, 2008 (2008)
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Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth
t the age of seven, Alice Cole is sold into indentured servitude by her father. Her mother and brothers succumbed to illness on the Atlantic crossing from London. She spends the next eight years in relative happiness, treated as a member of the family to which she was indentured. Then Nabby, the daughter of that family, marries and Alice accompanies her to serve out her last three years with the newly wedded couple.
t doesn't take long for Nabby's husband to appear in Alice's bedroom at night. After Nabby attacks her servant in a fit of jealousy, Alice flees an impossible situation. She makes her way to Satucket, a small fishing village on the coast of Massachusetts, and manages to attach herself to a widow with a questionable reputation. Life is much better until Alice's world falls apart.
is Sally Gunning's second historical novel. Her first,
The Widow's War
, was met with great favor - as, I am sure, this one will be.
takes the reader back to that time in history when the colonies questioned England's right to tax just about everything without giving representation in Parliament. Sedition was preached and quiet, secret meetings held. Life wasn't too bad if you were willing to work hard. Life for Alice Cole was never easy, as she had the charge of running out on her last three years of bondage hanging over her head. If caught, she had tough times ahead of her.
is a fascinating book, relating as it does not only the winds of change blowing through the colonies but also the day-to-day lives of the residents of Satucket. This is a tale well-told with credible characters for that time in the past - well-rounded, hardworking folk who believed in themselves. An interesting note is that the author considers the indentured to be the first slaves brought to America, saying also: '
There are more people living today in indentured servitude, or debt bondage, than in any time in history, it being the most common form of slavery worldwide, including the United States. Currently, there are an estimated twenty-seven million people living in slavery.
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