the cover is so sad and to telling…
Down Salem Way (The Loving Husband Series) By Meredith Allard released last year in the Historical Fiction genre.
How would you deal with the madness of the Salem witch hunts?
In 1690, James Wentworth arrives in Salem in the Massachusetts Bay Colony with his father, John, hoping to continue the success of John’s mercantile business. While in Salem, James falls in love with Elizabeth Jones, a farmer’s daughter. Though they are virtually strangers when they marry, the love between James and Elizabeth grows quickly into a passion that will transcend time.
But something evil lurks down Salem way. Soon many in Salem, town and village, are accused of practicing witchcraft and sending their shapes to harm others. Despite the madness surrounding them, James and Elizabeth are determined to continue the peaceful, loving life they have created together. Will their love for one another carry them through the most difficult challenge of all?
Universal links for the entire series:
Down Salem Way: https://books2read.com/u/4XQdqL
Her Dear and Loving Husband: https://books2read.com/u/49NXzk
Her Loving Husband’s Curse: https://books2read.com/u/baZ576
Her Loving Husband’s Return: https://books2read.com/u/31l5vD
Meredith Allard is the author of the bestselling paranormal historical Loving Husband Trilogy. Her sweet Victorian romance, When It Rained at Hembry Castle, was named a best historical novel by IndieReader. Her nonfiction book, Painting the Past: A Guide for Writing Historical Fiction, was named a #1 New Release in Authorship and Creativity Self-Help by Amazon. When she isn’t writing she’s teaching writing, and she has taught writing to students ages five to 75. She loves books, cats, and coffee, though not always in that order. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. Visit Meredith online at http://www.meredithallard.com.
The main reason I felt drawn to writing Down Salem Way was because there wasn’t much space to explore James and Elizabeth’s lives during the Salem Witch Trials in 1691-1692 in Her Dear and Loving Husband. We get glimpses of that time through memories, but the focus in Her Dear and Loving Husband is how the past influenced the present.
James and Elizabeth are not Puritans, but they live in a society ruled by Puritans. As a result, the Puritans’ strict laws affect the Wentworths. The Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony believed that idle hands became tools for the devil, and they were a hardworking, driven people who worked from dawn until dusk. When they were not working in the fields, tending to animals, or completing other chores necessary for survival they focused on following what they believed to be God’s plan for them. Attending church was mandatory. Puritans attended church at least two times a week, and all church members had to pay tithes. Select men were chosen to vote and make decisions for the church, and the Puritans’ daily rituals were controlled by the ministers and the town patriarchs.
The Puritans believed in living simply and peacefully, but woe to those who did not agree with them or follow their directions. Those who did not obey the laws would suffer punishments such as being banned from the colony, whippings, cutting off of ears, sticking head and arms through a stockade while being left to the whimsies of those looking for entertainment, and hangings. The punishments were doled out publicly—think of Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter wearing her beautifully embroidered A on the scaffold for the whole village to see. The punishments were meant as public teachings. You do not conform, you do not heed our laws, and you will suffer the consequences. This person hanging from the tree could be you if you do not do what is expected of you.
Some men were farmers, but they might also be ministers, coopers, millers, tanners, furriers, or surveyors. The lives of most colonial women, especially those living in rural centers like Salem Village, were centered around farming chores. Due to the poor quality of land in the Salem area the best most could do was subsistence farming. Farm families tended to live in small, one room, musky homes with little privacy where often the entire family slept in the same room. The men worked the fields and the women chopped firewood, tended the fires, gathered eggs, milked cows, and prepared meals over the open fires of the hearths. Even with the hearth fire lit, it was still cold inside during the winter months.
The nearness of the Atlantic ocean meant that fish was an important part of their diet. They also ate meat salted for preservation, pottages, cornmeal, and porridge. Women had to preserve food for the bleak winter months, and they had to make clothing for themselves as well as everyone in their family. As if that weren’t enough, women had to make soap and candles. They tended the gardens, dried the herbs, and fermented cider for the beer. They also raised the children and their husbands, because let’s face it—husbands need raising too—and they cared for immediate as well as extended family members whenever illness struck, which was frequently in the colonial era. Childbirth was extremely dangerous. Something like one in 30 pregnancies resulted in the death of the mother, which explains why so many men were on their second, third, or fourth wives (From The Daily Life of the Colonial Woman).
The Puritan-ruled Massachusetts Bay Colony was a patriarchal society. Puritans (male Puritans) used the Bible to convince followers that women were there to act as help meets for their husbands and birth the next generation of God-fearing Puritans. Women were thought of as property passed from father to husband, and they weren’t allowed to vote or make decisions in the church. One Puritan minister said, “the Husband is to be acknowledged to hold a Superiority, which the Wife is practically to allow.” Seriously, he said that. Women’s thoughts, opinions, and knowledge were not valued in general, although that wasn’t true across the board.
There were fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons who recognized thoughtfulness and intelligence in their womenfolk. One such fortunate woman was Anne Bradstreet. Bradstreet’s father made certain she was well educated and he encouraged her literary aspirations. Her book of poems, The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung up in America, was published in London in 1650. She continued writing poetry as she raised eight children and her husband, who was himself successful in colonial Massachusetts.
Weddings were interesting affairs in Puritan New England. For a marriage contract to be considered legal there were several steps: (1) a promise to marry; (2) publishing of the banns; (3) the marriage ceremony; (4) a celebration in public of the event; and (5) consummation of the marriage. I made much of James and Elizabeth’s wedding in Her Dear and Loving Husband. I particularly enjoyed writing those scenes where James’ father, John, makes much of Elizabeth’s bride cake, and Elizabeth herself, calling her Daughter even before the marriage ceremony was performed. Elizabeth wore no special gown but rather her own dress. James and Elizabeth had their families there to celebrate and encourage the new couple to “please, gratifie and oblige one another, as far as lawfully they can” (From KathleenKent.com).
The Puritans were more like us than they were different, which is generally what we discover when we study history. They had aspects of their lives that scared them, they felt driven to conform to the expectations of their society, and they did their chores, gossiped about others, and lived their lives the best they could.References
Clark, Alice. The Working Life of Women in the Seventeenth Century. A.M. Kelley: London, 1968.
Earle, Alice Morse. Home Life in Colonial Days. Courier Corporation, 2006.
Dexter, Elizabeth A. Colonial Women of Affairs. 2nd rev. ed. Augustus M. Kelley: Clifton, NJ, 1972.
Gale Group. The Daily Life of the Colonial Woman. 1999.
Kent, Kathleen. A Day in the Life of a Puritan Woman. Retrieved from http://www.kathleenkent.com/2011/09/12/a-day-in-the-life-of-a-puritan-woman-3/
Mixon, Franklin G. “Puritanism and the Founding of Massachusetts Bay Colony.” Public Choice Economics and the Salem Witchcraft Hysteria. Palgrave Pivot, New York, 2015. 21-31.
Ulrich, Laurel Thatcher. Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England, 1650-1750. Vintage Books: New York, 1980.
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Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Meredith-Allard/e/B000APN2C8