Soaked in drama and steeped in history, My Enemy’s Tears is historical fiction at its best.
In the 1630s two young girls fresh from England settle with their families in the Connecticut River Valley. There, on the frontier of a terrifying wilderness surrounded by warring natives, they must face the rigors of life among the Puritans — a people steeped in superstition and piety. Based on the lives of Mary Bliss Parsons and Sarah Lyman Bridgeman and the men they loved, this fictional account of a true story transports us to a land founded on a dream, where life was uncertain, and where fear and jealousy would lead to ruin.
Well written and well researched, this book is equal parts history lesson and family drama. Based on a true story and set in Puritan New England circa mid 1600’s, we’re introduced to Mary Bliss as she and her family flee religious prosecution in England. Growing up in the New World is a harsh reality for Mary. This was a harsh time period all around. If I could travel back in time, this century would be far, far down on my list of times to visit. Religion is at the heart of these hard times creating poor living conditions (bathing is frowned upon), strict rules (especially for women) and harsh consequences.
We see Mary transform from child to young woman. Sent to serve in a more prominent household by her parents who view her as willful and outspoken, she befriends the young mistress of the house, Sarah. Eventually, circumstances make it impossible for Mary to remain in service and the girls part with Sarah blaming Mary for their parting.
Mary and Sarah’s adult lives are lived throughout the pages that follow. We are privy to marriages, alliances, many births and deaths. There’s plenty here to keep the drama going. Sex, lies, jealously and hatred run wild through Northampton. There’s plenty of action as Indians are an ever increasing threat and wars loom.
At the core of this story are women who gossip away the unexplained and accuse those they don’t like at the time. Fear of witches and the Devil work to weave doubt about even the most upstanding citizens. Women, and even some men, who deal in herbal remedies or have birthmarks are prime suspects of witchcraft.
I appreciate that the author used wording of the time but was careful not to make so much use of it that it made the book hard to read. The backdrop was so well thought out and the descriptives really put the town into focus.
I was delighted with this gem and would like to thank the author and PR by the Book for providing me with a copy to review. Hopefully, this author has other interesting ancestors that we can look forward to reading about!
You can read the first chapter of the book on the author’s website, myenemystears.com.