Guest Post – Noelle Granger “A Little History of Pilgrim Husbands and Wives”

I recently caught up with Noelle Granger, author of the Rhe Brewster Mystery Series. Noelle has some great ideas for her first historical novel, based on the early Plimoth Colony. In the following guest post, Noelle talks about her idea and about the history of Pilgrim marriages.

As an author, I think you are always looking forward to the book you’re going to write next. A plan of mine for the next few years is to write my first historical novel. The subject of the book will be Mary Allerton, who came to the New World on the Mayflower when she was a child of four. She lived a long life, eighty years, and saw the many changes in the Plimoth Colony from the time of its establishment by the Pilgrims in 1620. This will be something new for me – not the research, because I do that for my mystery books – but writing about someone who lived nearly 400 years ago. There is no extant writing about the individual members of the original Plimoth Colony. We don’t know what they looked like or anything about their personalities; in most cases all we have is when and where they were born, when they died and the names of their children. We don’t even know exactly where they are buried, except somewhere on Burial Hill in Plymouth. This gives me great deal freedom and responsibility in terms of what I write, at the same time ensuring that the background is accurate and includes recorded historical events.

I want to make these freedom-seeking people real to my readers, with all their foibles and faults and strengths. They were so much more than just the cardboard cutout figures standing with Native Americans around tables laden with a harvest feast. To give you a taste of this, let me tell you something of what is known of the relationship between a Pilgrim husband and wife.

Male dominance was an accepted principle at the time. Public affairs were not open to women and only males were eligible to become “freemen.” Furthermore, women could be regarded with a kind of suspicion, solely because of their sex. Recall that both Old and New World witches were mainly women, and there were two allegations of witchcraft in records of the colony. Nevertheless, Plimoth’s first pastor, John Robinson, preached that women should not be regarded as necessary evils, but a wife should have the proper attitude toward her husband of “reverend subjugation.” It is interesting there is no evidence of habitual deference of one spouse to another, and I suspect that Pilgrim marriages were much more egalitarian than you might think.

A wife was largely subsumed under the legal personality of her husband, and by British common law could not own property, make contracts or sue for damages on her own. In Plimoth, however, a man was required to provide for his wife in his will, and in some cases, women could make a contract, such as that between a widow and her new husband with regard to the disposition of their respective properties. In some cases, women were allowed to separate from their husbands and they could also be granted liquor licenses! Both spouses were involved in the transfer of land and in the “putting out” of children into foster care, a fairly common occurrence when to the benefit of the child and both the natural and foster parents.

Colony records show instances of domestic disputes. Husbands and wives were expected to live together on a regular basis and in relative peace and harmony. If that were not the case, public condemnation might occur, up to and including a whipping. Sometimes domestic bliss took a village.

A woman might divorce her husband if he was impotent, since it was necessary that a marriage produce children, but marriage was expected to be an exclusive sexual union. Adultery was considered a serious transgression, severe enough to permit divorce and public whipping. Interestingly, adultery only occurred between a married woman and a married man or a married woman and an unmarried man. When a married man engaged in a sexual relationship with an unmarried woman, it was not considered adultery!

I think trying to write about the early Plimoth Colony is going to be both a challenge and great fun, and I plan to post more vignettes from what I learn in the course of my research.

Looking forward to a novel set during this time – thanks Noelle!  Be sure to visit Noelle’s blog at SaylingAway to learn more about her books and other projects.

For more information about the Rhe Brewster Mystery Series, check out my reviews of Death in a Red Canvas ChairDeath in a Dacron Sail and Death in a Mudflat.

Death in a Red Canvas Chair cover  Death in a Dacron Sail cover    

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What’s That Book? The Bone Wall by D. Wallace Peach

Whats That Book

The Bone Wall

Title: The Bone Wall

Author: D. Wallace Peach

Genre: Sci-fi; post-apocalyptic

Rating: 5 stars

What’s it about?  The Bone Wall is a story set in a broken world of the future, with desolate landscapes, fouled water and pockets of what remains of civilization. Fear, old myths, and hostility separate them. The remnants of the old world are domed cities, protected from outsiders by power shields. After centuries of use, they begin to fail. Outside the domes are tribes whose social order is enforced via force and brutality, plus the magic of the “Touched”, who are members of the various tribes with physical deformities but magical powers.

Heaven is one such domed city, and with the failure of its shield, the city is defenseless to the tribes encircling it. What happens when Heaven is invaded by outsiders is told through the eyes of twin sisters, Rimma, strong-willed twin and vengeful, and Angel, gentle-hearted and peaceful.

I am not normally drawn to post-apocalyptic novels, but the author has created such a detailed and fascinating world with such beautifully crafted, very real, characters, I could hardly put it down. There is a very subtle undercurrent to this story of our own world issues, which lends authenticity and a sense of realism. A dark novel, but one with hope, endlessly fascinating.

How did you hear about it? Fellow bloggers’ reviews and comments

Closing comment: Even if it’s not your usual genre, you’ll enjoy the read.

Contributor:  N.A. Granger
Author of:
Death in a Red Canvas Chair
Death in a Dacron Sail

You can find N.A. Granger and information about her Rhe Brewster mystery series, at SaylingAway, Facebook and Amazon.

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Death in a Dacron Sail by N. A. Granger

Death in a Dacron Sail cover
Death in a Dacron Sail
A Rhe Brewster Mystery

N. A. Granger


When Peter Barnes finds a small finger caught in his lobster trap, Rhe Brewster is on the scene, just a short step behind her brother-in-law, Sam, Pequod’s Chief of Police. She isn’t just nosing around. She carries a badge as a special consultant to the Pequod force. Rhe has a knack for investigating and Sam knows he’s going to need his ace sleuth on the job.

It doesn’t take Rhe long to discover that the finger belongs to a young girl who’s gone missing. Some additional digging turns up two more unsolved cases and Rhe immediately senses a connection. And a fourth case, the unsolved disappearance of Rhe’s best friend nearly twenty years before, makes this investigation personal.

Death in a Dacron Sail is the second book in the Rhe Brewster Mystery series. It’s a fun mystery, despite the sober subject of child kidnappings and abuse. Set in the fictional coastal town of Pequod, Maine, it’s full of New England color and Maine personality. There are lots of shady characters to challenge your own detective talents and there’s plenty of amusing banter between Rhe and Sam and the town regulars she meets up with during her investigation. Granger’s characters drink gallons of coffee and eat all kinds of delicious baked goods and stick-to-your ribs fare from the local eateries. I think I may have gained a couple pounds trying to keep up with them!

After reading and enjoying Granger’s first book, Death in a Red Canvas Chair, I can tell you that Rhe’s character is developing nicely into something solid. This time, she is three months pregnant and can only fuel up on decaf. But that doesn’t hold her back. True to character, she acts on instinct and finds herself in a variety of dangerous situations. And tension at home with her husband, Will, complicates matters as the two of them juggle work and family time with their young son, Jack.

I enjoyed reading this entertaining mystery for a number of reasons. Granger takes you up and down a variety of roads and the story’s ultimate conclusion has plenty of action and suspense. I love the Maine setting and think the characters are just right for the town of Pequod. References to actual places and features of Maine make the town seem real. And great characters, such as Ruthie from the police station, who knows everything about everyone and the very green Agent Bowers add a nice layer to the story.

Death in a Dacron Sail is a murder mystery, but don’t worry, it’s not too violent or gruesome, something I appreciate. Granger adds a little romance to keep things interesting and there’s a little bit of extra spice in there to raise your eyebrows. It all fits into a terrific town of characters and I can only imagine what kind of trouble Rhe will find herself in next!

I received an ARC to review Death in a Dacron Sail.

Also by N.A. Granger:  Death in a Red Canvas Chair

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What’s up next? A new Rhe Brewster Mystery!

Death in a Dacron Sail coverDeath in a Dacron Sail
a Rhe Brewster Mystery

N.A. Granger

Today I started reading Death in a Dacron Sail, by N.A. Granger. It’s the second book in the Rhe Brewster Mystery series and it is set to be released on March 2..

In this story, Rhe is called in on the discovery of a small finger, caught in a lobster trap. Rhe and her brother-in-law, Sam Brewster, who is Pequod’s Chief of Police, worry it could belong to a missing child and they get to work right away. A search points to three missing children in a span of three years, and a fourth, Deirdre Dunn, who went missing more than twenty-five years ago. Deirdre was Rhe’s best friend and the memory of this tragedy makes this case personal right away.

Rhe is a relentless fact-finder, so I’m sure she won’t rest until this mystery is solved. And this time, she’s pregnant, so she’ll have to juggle that with her job as an emergency room nurse and with her role as wife and as mother to seven-year-old Jack.

Granger’s story is off to a great start – I’m looking forward to following Rhe through her newest investigation!

About the author:

Noelle Granger
Noelle Granger

I found this interesting bio on Granger‘s Amazon page.

Noelle A. Granger grew up in Plymouth, MA, in a rambling, 125 year old house with a view of the sea. Summers were spent sailing and swimming and she was one of the first tour guides at Plimoth Plantation, a museum in Plymouth.

She graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a bachelor’s degree in Zoology and from Case Western Reserve University with a Ph.D. in anatomy. Following a career of research in developmental biology and teaching human anatomy to medical students and residents, the last 28 years of which were spent in the medical school of the University of North Carolina, she decided to try her hand at writing fiction.

Death in a Red Canvas Sail is her first book and features an emergency room nurse as the protagonist. The book is set in a coastal town in Maine, similar to Plymouth, and she has used her knowledge of such a small town, her experiences sailing along the Maine coast, and her medical background to enrich the story.

She has also had short stories, both fiction and non-fiction, published in Deep South Magazine, Sea Level Magazine, the Bella Online Literary Review, and Coastal Style Magazine. Her second novel in the Rhe Brewster mystery series, Death in a White Dacron Sail, was released in February 2015.

N.A. Granger lives in Chapel Hill, NC, with her husband Gene, a physician, and is the mother of two children.

Be sure to check out Granger’s blog, SaylingAway to see what else she has in the works!

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