27 January 2011

Review: The Wolves of Andover by Kathleen Kent

Martha Allen is stubborn and strong willed--not the best traits for a woman on the verge of spinsterhood in colonial Massachusetts. At nineteen, she is too old to be a dependent, so her parents send her to live with her cousin Patience, who is pregnant with her third child. Even if Martha can't get a husband, she can certainly help out by cooking and cleaning and helping out her extended family.

Patience's husband, Daniel, has hired two indentured servants: the tall, strong, and mysterious Thomas Carrier and his younger companion, John, an amiable and hardworking Scotsman. Thomas and Martha each have secrets to hide, but as they work alongside each other trust builds, and their relationship deepens. Before they can think about the future, however, Thomas must settle some long-standing issues that go all the way back to Cromwell's rebellion.

The Wolves of Andover by Kathleen Kent is the prequel to the very popular The Heretic's Daughter. I have not yet read Kent's first novel, so the characters and their stories were new to me, but the book seemed to stand on its own quite well.

The book is historical fiction, but the two main characters, Thomas Carrier and Martha Allen, were real people; in fact, they are Kent's ancestors. Thus the novel is based not only on research but also on family stories. As result, the setting, the details, and the personalities all seem believable.

The novel doesn't sugar-coat or romanticize colonial life in Massachusetts. Early settlers coped with their fear of ruffians and Native Americans, the pressures of social expectations, the absence of choices for women, and the lack of medical knowledge and skill. Furthermore, despite the expanse of ocean separating them from the mother land, British citizens were very much under the watchful eyes of royalist agents.

The Wolves of Andover is a solid entry in the historical fiction genre.

I listened to the unabridged audio edition (Hachette Audio, 8 hr, 42 min), read by Ellen Archer. Although Archer skillfully took the reader from description to conversation to action, I felt her deep voicing and somewhat stilted inflections for Thomas. especially when he revealed his secret past to Martha, was heavy handed and a bit droning. Regardless of those sections, I thought the audiobook was nicely produced, and it kept my attention.

The Wolves of Andover was an Indie Next pick for November 2010. To Learn more about Kathleen Kent and both her novels, visit her website. Note too that the novel was published under the Regan Arthur imprint; to learn more about that imprint, visit the Regan Arthur Books Perpetual Challenge blog.

Published by Hachette Group / Regan Arthur Books, 2010
ISBN-13: 9780316068628
YTD: 11
Source: Review (see review policy)
Rating: C+

Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


Sandy Nawrot 1/27/11, 6:36 AM  

I'm always shocked when I read good review after good review of a book, but never think about listening to it on audio. I'm going to see if my library has this...I want to read both.

Sandy Nawrot 1/27/11, 6:41 AM  

Ha! They had both!!!

Mary 1/27/11, 8:36 AM  

Nice review. I'm adding the title to my tbr list. I've seen reviews for it before but wasn't tempted to read it until now. I appreciate your comments about the reader's performance of Thomas. I've listened to audiobooks that were fantastic and a couple that I had to stop listening because the reader's inflections were a distraction. I'll probably read this book.

Swapna 1/27/11, 9:53 AM  

I had no idea this was a prequel to The Heretic's Daughter! I did read that book and liked it, but didn't love it. I'll still give this one a try since you liked it!

Kay 1/27/11, 9:53 AM  

I have a copy of THE HERETIC'S DAUGHTER packed away, but I wasn't aware that this one was connected to it. Lovely. I'll put it on my list. I find it very interesting when an author writes a novel based on family connections. Gives it an extra little something I think.

marthalama 1/27/11, 10:15 AM  

I've just started to listen to books on tape again. I used to years ago, then when I stopped commuting I didn't listen as much. I've started up again and boy am I enjoying it. This sounds like a perfect listen.

Julie P. 1/27/11, 10:56 AM  

I can't believe that I haven't read this one yet -- so embarrassing!

Jen - devourer of books 1/27/11, 11:19 AM  

I think you liked this one better than I did, I had some problems with the pacing. I love Kent for writing pretty good historical fiction about her own family, though!

Nise' 1/27/11, 11:46 AM  

I liked this one as well.

Zibilee 1/27/11, 12:05 PM  

I have this book, and the first in the series, and I really need to make the time to read them. Your review of this one makes me feel really excited about starting them! I am glad to heat that this was such a good read for you, and I will have to share my thoughts with you once I am finished!

Dorte H 1/27/11, 12:07 PM  

I think I´d like the stubborn Martha Allen.

Caitlin 1/27/11, 4:41 PM  

I haven't heard of this author or this series, but it sounds interesting. I'm definitely going to keep an eye out for it. Thanks!

Kris 1/27/11, 8:17 PM  

Thanks for the honest audio review. I'm interested in this one and would have been tempted to try it on audio,but think maybe it's best if I read this one now.

Kailana 1/27/11, 8:18 PM  

I really want to read Kathleen Kent, but I haven't had a chance to read her yet. This book looks really good, though! Thanks for a great review!

Jenners 1/27/11, 8:27 PM  

How interesting to write about your own relatives like this! I imagine it must have required quite a bit of research but what a legacy to leave behind.

softdrink 1/27/11, 10:00 PM  

I loved The Heretic's Daughter...it's bleakness at its best. This one, though, I just couldn't get into.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 1/27/11, 10:14 PM  

I haven't yet read THE HERETIC'S DAUGHTER, either, so I'm glad to know this stands on its own. I'll likely read the print edition.

Coffee and a Book Chick 1/27/11, 11:17 PM  

I really enjoyed The Heretic's Daughter. I loved the way it was written, and the story - not to mention that the author is a direct descendent of Martha Carrier, too. I'll be reading the print version of this book in the next couple of months; I can't wait to read it.

Tribute Books 1/28/11, 12:12 PM  

I was in the same boat as you - I read Wolves without previously reading The Heretic's Daughter, and I agree it is able to stand on its own.

If you're so inclined, please feel free to check out my review at: http://tributebooksreviews.blogspot.com/2010/11/kathleen-kent-wolves-of-andover.html

Best wishes,
Tribute Books

Rebecca Rasmussen 1/28/11, 12:12 PM  

I have this one on my shelf but somehow I keep forgetting about it! Thank you so much for reminding me :)

Rebecca Rasmussen 1/28/11, 12:12 PM  

I have this one on my shelf but somehow I keep forgetting about it! Thank you so much for reminding me :)

Kate 1/29/11, 1:22 PM  

Hm. I read and reviewed The Heretic's Daughter when it came out, and found it passable but forgettable, and thought that the narrator's voice robbed the book of adult complexity. I wonder if her sophomore effort is any better? Unfortunately the first book doesn't make me want to run out for the next. But thanks for the review anyway.

Michelle 1/30/11, 8:55 AM  

This book is actually set in my hometown so I'm inclined to read it despite the fact that I don't generally read adult historical fiction.

I'm glad you enjoyed it!

bermudaonion 1/31/11, 7:50 PM  

I think I'll stick with the print version of this one! Julie linked your review to the challenge blog.

Jennifer 2/5/11, 5:08 PM  

This sounds like a wonderful story to begin with but to know that it is based on real people makes it seem even more intriguing to me. I'll definitely be adding this to my list!

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