Review: Flight of the Sparrow, by Amy Belding Brown
When a new historical novel written by former Grafton resident Amy Belding Brown came to my attention, I immediately ran to the library. Amy’s first novel, Mr. Emerson’s Wife, was well received, and I’m betting her newest effort, Flight of the Sparrow, will be an even bigger success.
Subtitled , “A Novel of Early America”, Flight of the Sparrow brings the reader back to Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1676. As seen through the eyes of Mary Rowlandson, the wife of a Puritan minister, life is hard, but there seems to be enough food in the village of Lancaster and they persevere. Unfortunately, there are still Indian uprisings, and when one particularly savage attack occurred, Mary and one of her children were captured , enslaved and held for ransom. Two of her other children were taken elsewhere. Her husband was away at the time.
Although her capture lasted only three months, Mary’s experience into the lifestyle of the Indians was life-changing. After an initial period of brutal handling including rope around her neck, her captors lessened the severity of her treatment and she was allowed some freedom of movement after her heavy work was done.
She became accustomed to the Indian ways and began to appreciate the natural world around her. Even her new clothing consisting of a deerskin shift and soft moccasins was a relief from her cumbersome Puritan garb. The Indians, however, were slowly starving. They broke camp frequently and looked forward to the reward a ransom would bring.
Three months later she was returned to the English for a ransom. The location of this occurrence was Redemption Rock in Princeton. (route 140 north).
The rest of the book concerns her adjustment to the restrictive Puritan ways. Mary refused to disclose information about her enslavement, so rumors and sly looks ensued. Her husband was not happy with her reticence, and Mary began to question her husband’s authority and religious teachings.
Amy Belding Brown did a great deal of research into this fascinating look into local history. For example, James Printer, a Nipmuc Indian, came from the Hassanamesit, a Praying Indian Village in Grafton. Sound familiar?
Do not under any conditions miss this book . It is stellar.
I give the book 4 sparrow feathers.
Happy reading from Beverly!