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by Catharine Maria Sedgwick
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From 500 Great Books by Women; review by Erica Bauermeister
During the 1800s, Catharine Sedgwick was considered one of the founding authors of American literature; unfortunately she was relegated to obscurity in our century and only recently rediscovered. But there's more to Catharine Sedgwick than historical interest - she was a writer who considered political and ethical questions through marketable, often fast-paced literature, in the process producing some of the most spirited women in fiction. Hope Leslie whirls off the pages like a combination of Pippi Longstocking, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Gloria Steinem. A free-thinker in the midst of a repressive eighteenth-century Puritan tradition, Hope is determined to follow her own conscience, and she repeatedly rebels in ingenious, dangerous, and often humorous ways. She frees imprisoned Indians, challenges the restrictions placed upon women by Puritan leaders, refuses a suitor she does not want - and that is just the beginning. Surrounding Hope are three very different women: articulate, angry Magawisca, one of the few Pequod survivors of a massacre by white men; Esther, Hope's close friend, a meek and subservient Puritan woman; and Rosa, who dresses as a boy to follow her lover to America and then exacts a powerful revenge when rejected. Through them all comes a story packed with romantic misunderstandings, politics, and philosophy, presenting a potentially dark world whose hope is the democracy symbolized in its adventurous, quick-thinking heroine. -- For great reviews of books for girls, check out Let's Hear It for the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14.
"makes available after many decades the New Englander's tale of seventeenth-century Puritans and their relations with the indigenous Indian population."
"Develops the connections between patriarchal authority within the Puritan State and its policy of dispossessing and exterminating Indians...."
"A splendid conceived edition of Sedgwick's historical romance."
The house at Bethel had, both in front and in rear, a portico, or, as it was more humbly, and therefore more appropriately named, a shed; that in the rear, was a sort of adjunct to the kitchen, and one end of it was enclosed for the purpose of a bed-room, and occupied by Magawisca. Everell found Digby sitting at the other extremity of this portico; his position was prudently chosen. The moon was high, and the heavens clear, and there concealed and sheltered by the shadow of the roof, he could, without being seen, command the whole extent of cleared ground that bordered on the forest, whence the foe would come, if he came at all.
From the Back Cover
Set in seventeenth-century New England, Hope Leslie (1827) portrays early American life and celebrates the role of women in building the republic. A counterpoint to the novels of James Fenimore Cooper, it challenges the conventional view of Indians tackles interracial marriage and cross-cultural friendship, and claims for women their rightful place in history. At the center of novel are two friends. Hope Leslie, a spirited thinker in a repressive Puritan society, fights for justice for the Indians and asserts the independence of women. Magawisca, the passionate daughter of a Pequot chief, braves her father's wrath to save a white man and risks her freedom to reunite Hope with her long-lost sister, captured as a child by the Pequots and now married to Magawisca's brother. Amply plotted, with unforgettable characters, Hope Leslie is a rich, compelling, deeply satisfying novel.
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