Thursday, April 15, 2021

Guest Post by Jean M. Roberts, Author of The Heron

Please join me in welcoming Jean M. Roberts to Let Them Read Books! Jean is celebrating the publication of her newest historical novel, The Heron, and I'm pleased to have her here today with a guest post about the historical story world her characters inhabit!

The past calls to those who dare to listen…

An invitation arrives; Abbey Coote, Professor of American Studies, has won an extended stay in an historic B&B, Pine Tree House. The timing is perfect. Abbey is recovering from an accident which left her abusive boyfriend dead and her with little memory of the event.

But her idyllic respite soon takes a terrifying turn. While exploring the house, Abbey comes face to face with Mary Foss, a woman dead for 350 years. Through a time/mind interface, Abbey experiences the horrors of Mary’s life, living at the edge of the civilized world in the 1690’s New England.

As Abbey faces her worst fears, she struggles to free them both from the past.

The Heron is a blend of passion and creative energy, woven together to form a single work. I have always loved history. As an American, I also appreciate and enjoy our unique history as a people and a country. There was a time when immigrants to New England were not quite American and not fully English, a very interesting period in our history!

From its inception, the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which from time-to-time controlled New Hampshire was a virtual theocracy. It did not become a Royal Colony until 1691. The Puritan elite who ruled Massachusetts quickly dropped their Anglican pretensions and set up a system of congregation churches. A staunch, rigid religion which controlled society, it believed most people were damned to hell and espoused an angry righteous God. Each church chose and hired their own minister. Attendance was mandatory and abstainers were fined. Services held in unheated wooden buildings could last for hours. The fiery ministers exhorting his flock to fear his maker.

Women, children, servants and slaves were under the household government of their father/husband/master. The population was litigious; the quarterly courts were filled with cases of slander and trespass. Neighbors were quick to turn on each other, and report each other’s misdeeds.  Women who did not conform, who strayed too far from accepted norms, might find themselves accused of witchcraft. Physical punishment was not only tolerated but encouraged. Men who did not chastise their wives were seen as weak. Abuse was frequent; a part of daily life.

Violence came from without as well. As much as we would like to believe that the land of the ‘new world’ was there for the taking, the Native Americans resisted the takeover of what was their home. The result was frequent attacks and several full-scale wars between the colonists and the native population. Juxtaposed to this frightening, conformist world were the glittering courts of Europe. Hard as it is to believe, but actions taken by European governments, thousands of miles and an ocean away played havoc on the struggling colonies. From 1688 to 1697 King William’s War, the first of four French and Indian Wars raged across New England, sparked by the continental War of the Grand Alliance. Waves of French soldiers and their native allies, swept out of Canada to attack the fledgling towns, defended only by their local militias.

The colonists of New Hampshire built garrison houses, thick-walled buildings, surrounded by stockade walls to provide shelter during times of upheaval. I have found many ancestors who were killed in these attacks, many scalped before they died. Others were taken as captives to Canada, some never seen again. For years at a stretch, they lived in daily fear of attack.

The psychic scars left by living under such conditions must have been almost unbearable. One of the main accusers during the Salem Witch Trials, Mercy Lewis, survived the attack on Casco Bay, Maine, in which her entire family was killed. It is believed that the event affected her deeply. This is the world of The Heron.

About the Author:

Jean M. Roberts is the author of three novels. Weave a Web of Witchcraft, Blood in the Valley, and The Heron. She writes historical fiction with a special focus on American history. Her novel Blood in the Valley was reviewed by the Historical Novel Society.  Jean was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and has deep New England roots. She is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and lives in Texas with her husband. 


1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Jenny. It's been a pleasure to share The Heron with your wonderful readers!


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