Imagine it's the 1670s and you, an English woman, are helping carve out a piece of civilization in the American colonies. Now imagine that after you witness the brutal murder of your neighbors, you are captured by Indians and find yourself alone and enslaved in the harsh New England wilderness. Could you conquer your fear and keep your faith in God long enough to survive? That's the true story of Mary Rowlandson, who lived to tell her tale to the world.
Later, Mary will trace the first signs of the Lord's displeasure back to a hot July morning in 1672 when she pauses on her way to the barn to watch the sun rise burnt orange over the meetinghouse. She feels a momentary sinking in her bowels as it flashes like fire through a damp haze, putting her in mind of the terrors of hell. She has never been adept at reading omens.—Flight of the Sparrow by Amy Belding Brown (Penguin USA / NAL, 2014, p. 1)
- Setting: New England, 1670s
- What I know of the historic Mary Rowlandson: Rowlandson was born in England and settled in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. During King Philip's War, she was captured and sold into slavery and lived for almost a year among the Indians under both physical and psychological duress. Near starving and grieving her losses, she fought to keep her fear in check and survive in the hopes of being reunited with her children. Although she began to see the Native Americans as people, she never truly thought of them as anything but savage heathens. Several years after she was restored to her husband, she wrote her story, which became the first best-seller of the New World.
- What I know of the novel: I haven't yet read the book, but my understanding is that the first half tells the story of life in the colony, the massacre, and Rowlandson's months in captivity. The second part of the story imagines how Rowlandson struggled to fit back into the Puritan community. She faced two principal issues: First, her neighbors now considered her damaged goods. Second, after living in the wilderness, she began to feel uncomfortable under the constraints of her church.
- Genre: historical fiction
- Why I want to read it: I've read Rowlandson's original narrative, and I'm curious about how Brown has filled in the gaps and details of the story. I'm especially interested in how Brown imagines Rowlandson's life after she reentered society.
Thanks to the nice people at NAL, I am pleased to offer one of my readers a copy of Flight of the Sparrow. Because the publishers will be mailing the book, this giveaway is open to only those with a U.S. mailing address. All you have to do to be entered for a chance to win is to fill out the following form. I'll pick a winner on August 8 using a random number generator. Once the winner has been confirmed, I'll erase all personal data from my computer. Good luck!