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Book Review: The Water's Edge - Virginia Bailey Parker

Snowy Creek Press, 2001, $18.95 (£11.18), 363 pp, pb, ISBN 097034970X

by Pat Maynard
-originally published in The Historical Novels Review Magazine of the Historical Novel Society (HNS)

This is a multi-generational story of three families who leave England for the New World and settle in Salem, Massachusetts. As the years go by, each family deals in its own unique way with personal joy and tragedy, religious intolerance, conflict with the Indian population, and political maneuvering with England. While England's civil war rages, the colonists experience little interference from their homeland. But when Charles II assumes the throne and begins looking to the New World to fill his empty coffers, the seeds of discontent are sown for the inevitable. Divided loyalties plague the colonists and each have to come to their own painful decision about where they truly lie.

The author has done her homework with this novel, which is filled with good historical research. And although this book is by no means something I would label feminist literature, it certainly has an underlying theme on the plight of seventeenth century English women, such as the fact that midwives were licensed by bishops because childbirth was considered more a religious matter than a medical one--and, even worse, that any midwife discovered doing anything to ease suffering during childbirth would have her license revoked. Highly recommended.


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