The Winthrop Woman Makes History Live

Historical fiction doesn’t get any better than The Winthrop Woman, Anya Seton’s fascinating tale of Puritan America.

Elizabeth, the novel’s heroine, is niece and daughter-in-law to John Winthrop, the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Widowed before she reaches America, Elizabeth marries Robert Feake, a strange, weak young man. The Feakes flee Massachusetts when Elizabeth is accused of witchcraft. They settle in Greenwich, buy land, and seek the protection of Dutch citizenship.

Unhinged by an Indian attack, Robert returns to England. In order to get a divorce so she can marry again, Elizabeth says she committed adultery. That lie almost does her in. Elizabeth and her third husband, William Hallet, barely escape being tried for both adultery and bigamy.

Beneath all the exciting stuff—passion, witchcraft, massacres, madness—is a fascinating picture of Puritans. Far from being united by faith, they bickered constantly among themselves over doctrinal points and united only in contempt for Catholics, Baptists, and other heathen.

Readers would never guess this story wasn’t invented, but the facts, dates, and circumstances are all true. Sexton said the story didn’t need any additions to make it exciting. (She’s right.) She even incorporated characters’ written words into the novel’s dialog.

Don’t miss The Winthrop Woman. It’s a great read.

The Winthrop Woman
by Anya Seton
Houghton, Mifflin 1958
586 pages
1958 Bestseller #8
My grade: A
© 2007 Linda Gorton Aragoni
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Linda Aragoni

I read. I write. I think. I make big ideas simple. I help teachers teach expository writing to teens and adults. In my free time, I read and review old novels.

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