At first I was not liking this novel, so I took a long time in reading it (three months). By the novel's end I found myself very fond of several of the characters. Jenette is a villain through and through, and her demise is well deserved. In fact, you may cheer. Magawisca is a beautiful, noble Indian maiden who serves as a foil to imperfect Puritan society. She is resolute in her happiness with Nature and cannot be swayed to become a Christian. When she departs in the novel, I was almost in tears. Very rarely does a book move me in that way. Esther Downing represents the ideal Puritan woman, and her sacrifice at the novel's end is heroic and encapsulates one of Sedgwick's feminist points: a woman does not need to marry in order to be happy.
My main issue with the novel is Sedgwick's storytelling methods. She does not tell the story quite linearly. Moments will occur that don't make any sense. These moments are not explained until a digression into the past with the next chapter or maybe several chapters hence. Nevertheless, this method works well with heightening the mystery and suspense. In fact, it serves Sedgwick superbly with the climax of her story.
This novel is a fine testament of Sedgwick's skills at research and storytelling. It's a grand adventure.
Apr 15, 2010
Well done reprint of classic work. Good notes. This edition is rather rare now, evidently, so worth latching onto if you find it somewhere.
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