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.
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Source: Review (see review policy)
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