Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Women of Colonial America: 13 Stories of Courage and Survival in the New World
Rating: 4 Stars
For its purpose - to inform younger readers of this time period - this book serves is purpose very well. I did not now when I first snagged it off an end cap in the library that it was YA. This happens to me quite often, but I went ahead with it anyway because when I was younger I really loved this time period. As I have gotten older, my interests have jumped across the pond, but still gave this one a go.
The purpose of this text specifically is to introduce readers to various women of the time. This includes Native American women, indentured servants from Europe, young (mail-order-ish) brides sent for to help the colonies survive, and African women brought to the colonies as slaves.
Though I was familiar with a couple of the women - Pocahontas, Anne Hutchinson, Martha Corey, and Eliza Lucas Pinckney - I still learned new information about them. I had no idea that Pocahontas was kidnapped and held hostage for over a year, or that that is how she came to be married to John Rolfe. Whether she ever actually agreed to the marriage herself or not, is something we will likely never know, but either way she accompanied him to England eventually, where she subsequently died. The later facts I knew, but the rest of my knowledge was scanty at best.
One of the reasons I have lost interest in colonial and revolutionary times is the details regarding the battles and skirmishes between Native Americans and colonists. After I became a mother, it became nearly impossible for me to even watch the news anymore, with such terrible things being reported all the times in regards to crimes against children. Seriously, I can't even watch Law and Order: SVU anymore, and those are fictionalized stories. But there are so many terrible accounts of babies and children murdered by raiding parties, it just makes my heart break for these little ones who were murdered and their mothers who sometimes survived. This book was no exception, as there are accounts both of Anne Hutchinson and many of her children, who were scalped and murdered. Later on in the text there is the account of a young woman who had recently had a baby, and the baby was murdered in a raid as well. I an hardly type the words, it just makes me sick.
Now, I do of course realize the terrible crimes committed against the Native Americans as well, their lands taken, their cultures destroyed, their entire way of life changed after thousands of years. However, my sympathies are not solely given only to the little ones belonging to the colonists. It is all children period, that I simply can not abide the violence against them, regardless of the violence of the age. It just sickens me and makes me hold my sweet girl tighter and give her more hugs, and thank God once again that we live now and not then. This world is not without its own dangers of course, but that is a whole different can of worms I do not care to open right now, nor is it directly related to my review.
I appreciated the way the information in the text was organized. The women are divided up among categories and a brief kind of summary, just a few pages, of relevant information is given before getting to the women themselves. For example, one chapter is called 'In This New Discovered Virginia', where we find first the section on Pocahontas, then the next on Cecily Jordan Farrar. The last chapter, 'A Changing World', gave information about the later period, before discussing four more remarkable women - Eliza Lucas Pinckney, a slave known only as Eve, and Christiana Campbell and Jane Vobe - two women busy running competing taverns in that time.
Overall I would definitely recommend this one for its intended demographic. It is well-written and well-researched. The author left a dedication at the beginning of the text, which I find especially poignant and accurate.
"Dedicated also to the women of Colonial America. How I wish you'd left more of yourselves behind, your stories in your own words."
If only, indeed.