About the BookWhen her husband is lost in a whaling disaster, Lyddie Berry finds her status as a widow is vastly changed. Her son-in-law sets out to strip her of everything she and her husband worked for, but she refuses to bow to societal and legal pressures.
The Red Tent meets The Scarlett Letter in this haunting historical novel set in a colonial New England whaling village.
"When was it that the sense of trouble grew to fear, the fear to certainty? When she sat down to another solitary supper of bread and beer and picked cucumber? When she heard the second sounding of the geese? Or had she known that morning when she stepped outside and felt the wind? Might as well say she knew it when Edward took his first whaling trip to the Canada River, or when they married, or when, as a young girl, she stood on the beach and watched Edward bring about his father's boat in the Point of Rock Channel. Whatever its begetting, when Edward's cousin Shubael Hopkins and his wife Betsey came through the door, they brought her no new grief, but an old acquaintance."
When Lyddie Berry's husband is lost in a storm at sea, she finds that her status as a widow is vastly changed from that of respectable married woman. Now she is the "dependent" of her nearest male relative--her son-in-law. Refusing to bow to societal pressure that demands she cede everything that she and her husband worked for, Lyddie becomes an outcast from family, friends, and neighbors--yet ultimately discovers a deeper sense of self and, unexpectedly, love.
Evocative and stunningly assured, The Widow's War is an unforgettable work of literary magic, a spellbinding tale from a gifted talent.
From the Back Cover
Married for twenty years to Edward Berry, Lyddie is used to the trials of being a whaler's wife in the Cape Cod village of Satucket, Massachusetts--running their house herself during her husband's long absences at sea, living with the daily uncertainty that Edward will simply not return. And when her worst fear is realized, she finds herself doubly cursed. She is overwhelmed by grief, and her property and rights are now legally in the hands of her nearest male relative: her daughter's overbearing husband, whom Lyddie cannot abide. Lyddie decides to challenge both law and custom for control of her destiny, but she soon discovers the price of her bold "war" for personal freedom to be heartbreakingly dear.
Includes the fascinating "story behind the story" of The Widow's War, a map of colonial Brewster, and a driving tour of the village of Satucket.
"Merging historical fact with riveting fiction . . . This is historical fiction at its best; highly recommended." -- Library Journal (starred review)
"Provocative . . . Gunning infuses the story with suspense and intrigue [and] resists easy generalizations and stereotypes." -- Publishers Weekly
"Readers will be swiftly turning the pages, eagerly cheering for the strong-willed widow." -- Booklist
"Heartrending ... Gunning's vibrant portrayal of Lyddie's journey shows that the pursuit of happiness is not for the faint of heart." -- Boston Globe
"Gripping, romantic, historically sound, and completely satisfying...I'll be surprised if I read a better historical novel this year." -- Historical Novels Review (The Historical Novel Society); "Editor's Choice"