p. 46 “Lyddie looked up at the sky, moonless and star-pocked. Oh, Edward, she thought, how could you possess such knowledge of my flesh and so little of my spirit?”
How could I resist a cover design using a detail of a Winslow Homer painting, “Girl With Red Stocking”? I did not. For a mere $1.00 I have been transported to a time in New England – unfamiliar with its history, setting – yet hauntingly familiar of a not-too-distant past where women were property, with little or no rights as an individual. If course, I was not aware of the story at the time. It was purely the art.
Author, Sally Gunning introduced me to the trials, fears, and challenges of a whaler’s wife living in Cape Cod during the mid to late 1700s. The idea of whaling made me tentative – I almost abandoned the book, but within the first pages Lyddie had the beginnings of being an extraordinary woman facing an ordinary situation – the death of a spouse. Not unaware of the inequalities and restrictions – both legal and societal – for women during this time period, it was not the outrage at her situation, rather it was the character herself keeping me in that provincial setting. She is so real – strong and fragile; repressed and loving. I could not abandon her!
Gunning clearly loves her history – to delve into it in such depth and detail – by bringing alive the myriad situations through such well-crafted characters. No one is the caricature of a New Englander – especially the women. I hope to someday take a “Tour of Lyddie Berry’s Satucket Village” (p. 313), book in hand.
Gunning, Sally. The Widow’s War: a Novel. New York: HarperCollins, 2006. Print.