Bloomsbury USA. Mar. 2020. 288p. ISBN 9781635573220. $26.
This revisionist history–based story of the voyage of the Mayflower and the first ten years of Plymouth Colony is told mainly by three women—Dorothy Bradford, the first wife of William Bradford, Alice Bradford, the second wife of by-then governor Bradford (a post he held for some 30 years, more akin to king than anything else), and Eleanor Billington, the wife of the biggest “troublemaker” in the colony, John Billington. Readers of William Bradford’s accepted history, Of Plymouth Plantation, will find here described a considerably less cohesive and righteous place. From the early pages, we hear much of all the common squabbles of people living in close proximity during very hard times, but most intriguingly an increasing foreshadowing of a murder to come, over a land dispute between Billington and a newly arrived settler.
VERDICT Readers who enjoy historical fiction, told with fine literary style, will be delighted. Nesbit (The Wives of Los Alamos) undertook considerable historical documentary research to get the details right, and the results should also appeal to anyone with an interest in colonial history. [See Prepub Alert, 9/16/19.]
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