In the harsh wilderness of colonial Massachusetts, Martha Allen works as a servant in her cousin's household, taking charge and locking wills with everyone. Thomas Carrier labors for the family and is known both for his immense strength and size and mysterious past. The two begin a courtship that suits their independent natures, with Thomas slowly revealing the story of his part in the English Civil War. But in the rugged new world they inhabit, danger is ever present, whether it be from the assassins sent from London to kill the executioner of Charles I or the wolves-in many forms-who hunt for blood. A love story and a tale of courage, The Traitor's Wife confirms Kathleen Kent's ability to craft powerful stories of family from colonial history.
Just before I started to read this, I'd been working on documenting my family's ancestry. It's a project I've worked on off and on for quite sometime. I'd just been going through my colonial ancestors the day before I picked this up so the subject matter drew me in immediately. I love history. My husband doesn't believe that because he tends to focus on the wars, impersonal details and technical advances part of history and I don't like that stuff. I prefer people. I love to learn about how people lived in the past. I love hearing their personal stories, how they survived, what they did and why they did it.
I was fascinated to learn that this story is based on real people. Martha Allen was a real person who was one of the nineteen women who were named as witches during the Salem witch trials and hanged as a result. This story doesn't cover that though. You'll have to read The Heretic's Daughter to read up on that part of her life. This story is set several years before and follows her meeting and courtship with Thomas Carrier, a Welshman with a dubious past.
I really enjoyed their romance. Sure, it was a little slow going but hey, they were Puritans. What do you expect? I thought they were very sweet and I loved that Martha wasn't afraid to speak her mind (though that probably didn't help her in the end). She's a woman after my own heart. I don't like to take other people's crap either. So, I related to her despite our 400 year old time difference.
I really enjoyed reading about this time in history. I think the last book I read in Colonial America was The Scarlet Letter. I think this one was much more engaging and easier to read.