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Wolves of Andover by Kathleen Kent

Wolves of Andover

By Kathleen Kent

PBR Book Review:

This prequel to Kathleen Kent’s previous book “The Heretic’s Daughter”, takes place in colonial Massachusetts in the mid to late 1600s. There are two main threads. Martha, unmarried and considered a spinster at age 19 is sent to her cousins house to help her through her pregnancy. Martha is strong willed. She bristles at intimacy but is acutely aware of the disadvantages of remaining single and equally adamant about marrying for love. Here she meets Thomas Carrier, a worker on her cousin’s farm. This thread is the strongest. Kent provides rich detail of the harshness of daily life in 17th century Massachusetts as the inhabitants fight wolves, Indians, and small pox. The second thread deals with the back-story of Thomas. He’s a former soldier rumored to have ties to the death of King Charles I and is being hunted by loyalists. Kathleen Kent gives readers some of the fascinating history surrounding the execution of King Charles I King Charles I and Oliver Cromwell. My only criticism is I felt the sections depicting the story of Thomas Carrier could have been better integrated. Although I enjoyed this book, I liked "The Heretics Daughter" better.

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*Other Books by Same Author: “The Heretics Daughter”

*Discussion Questions

1. What must it be like for Martha, a strong, independent woman, to be a servant in her cousin's home?

2. Why is Martha so determined to gain the upper hand in her early dealings with Thomas and John?

3. Giving birth in the early colonies was often dangerous. Discuss what it must have been like for a woman at that time to be pregnant, lacking a proper diet and adequate medical care. Patience often behaves in a weak and ineffectual way. Does knowing about the perils of childbirth that she faced make you feel more compassion for her?

4. Just before Martha's encounter with the wolves, she remembers a poem recited by an elderly great-aunt. The last line is "it is not wolf, but man, and brings a maiden's death" (page 53). Discuss what you think that passage means.

5. Wolves were a real threat in the early colonial wilderness. What do the wolves foreshadow beyond the coming of the assassins?

6. Martha carries a dark secret. At what point do you think Thomas intuits her painful past experiences?

7. When Martha discovers the scroll inside Thomas's trunk, a small piece of wood falls to the floor and "an aversion as strong as anything she had ever felt unfurled its way down her spine" (page 141). Discuss whether you believe some people have the ability to sense past events through physical objects.

8. In chapter 12, Brudloe tells the miller Asa Rogers that it can't be difficult to track down one colonial lout—meaning Thomas. The miller answers, "To find men of stature in this place, in this hard wilderness, one has only to stand on a Boston wharf and look westwards" (page 148). Discuss the events that helped make the colonists so capable.

9. Martha's father tells her that he did not raise her to be liked, but rather to be "reckoned with" (page 266). What do you think he means?

10. Often we think of the New World colonies as established on the eve of the American Revolution. History shows, however, that independent thought and action took root much earlier. Discuss ways in which the early spy rings of the colonial settlers aided the colonists' growing independence.

Book Summary
In the harsh wilderness of colonial Massachusetts, Martha Allen works as a servant in her cousin's household, taking charge and locking wills with everyone. Thomas Carrier labors for the family and is known both for his immense strength and size and mysterious past. The two begin a courtship that suits their independent natures, with Thomas slowly revealing the story of his part in the English Civil War. But in the rugged new world they inhabit, danger is ever present, whether it be from the assassins sent from London to kill the executioner of Charles I or the wolves—in many forms—who hunt for blood. A love story and a tale of courage, The Wolves of Andover confirms Kathleen Kent's ability to craft powerful stories of family from colonial history.
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