BOOK STEW REVIEW: ‘Beheld’ by TaraShea Nesbit

Below is the latest Book Stew Review from Eileen MacDougall, host of the long-running Book Stew, a video and podcast devoted to writing in all forms, authors, playwrights, and even a cat who survived a tornado and wrote a book about it:

‘Beheld’ by TaraShea Nesbit

Here’s a look behind the scenes at the “land of the pilgrim’s pride”, the colony founded at Plymouth, MA in 1620. The author, through diaries, research, and her own imagination, allows the voice of the settler’s wives to finally be heard – and they are strong! Alice Bradford is the second wife of William Bradford, the governor of the town. Her “consort”, or best friend, was Dorothy, Bradford’s first wife, who drowned under questionable circumstances during the Mayflower voyage. Eleanor Billington is the wife of indentured servant John, who feels that he has been done a grievous wrong when land was distributed, and murders the nameless newcomer who was granted the same land, purely for vengeance against the colony’s managers. Relations between the pious founders, or separatists, who bound the indentured to them (and who left Holland because they felt their children were becoming too Dutch, not for “religious freedom”, as they already had gained it when they left England) and those indentured “Anglicans”, had always been tense. The separatists granted themselves rights, such as trading with the Wampanoags, that were denied to the others. This is a thrilling recounting of the Billington murder and hanging, but it suffers from the lack of voices of the Native Americans, who appear only in the shameful recounting of the violence against them.

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