Thank you to Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to participate in the blog tour for The Good wife, a new historical novel by Eleanor Porter.
The Good Wife
Where will her loyalty lead her?
Once accused of witchcraft Martha Spicer is now free from the shadow of the gallows and lives a safe and happy life with her husband, Jacob. But when Jacob heads north to accompany his master, he warns Martha to keep her healing gifts a secret, to keep herself safe, to be a good wife.
Martha loves Jacob but without him there to protect her, she soon comes under the suspicious eye of the wicked Steward Boult, who’s heard of her talent and forces her to attend to him. If she refuses, he promises to destroy the good life she has built for herself with Jacob.
Desperate and alone, Martha faces a terrible decision: stay and be beholden to Boult or journey north to find Jacob who is reported to have been killed.. The road ahead is filled with danger, but also the promise of a brighter future. And where her gifts once threatened to be her downfall, might they now be the very thing that sets Martha free…?
The brilliant follow-up to Eleanor Porter’s first novel of love, betrayal, superstition and fear in Elizabethan England. A story of female courage, ingenuity and determination , this is perfect for fans of Tracy Chevalier.
Set in Elizabethan England, The Good Wife is a sequel to The Wheelwright’s Daughter, Eleanor Porter’s brilliant debut novel. It can be read as a standalone, although once you get to know Martha, you will want to go back and read where and how her story began.
We meet Martha as she has just been acquitted of witchcraft. Her beloved Jacob has saved her life again and now he is taking her away from the place where Martha will always be seen as a cripple and a witch. In her new home Martha can leave it all behind and stop fearing people. Jacob doesn’t want Martha to practise healing as it would attract more attention to her and Martha agrees. All she wants is to be a good wife of a good man. Jacob is working as a stablehand for Sir Thomas and is asked to accompany his master on his two month journey to the north. Jacob warns her against treacherous Steward Boult who has ruined countless girls and young women. Steward Boult puts her into an impossible position and when Sir Thomas returns with his servants, but without Jacob who is presumed dead, Martha sets off on a journey to find her beloved husband.
The writing is simply beautiful. There’s so much emotional power and rich detail in Eleanor Porter’s vivid descriptions. I could feel warm sunshine and tender touch of nature that surrounded Martha and Jacob in the first weeks in their new home.I could feel Martha’s grief and the cold shadows that were trying to swallow her whole being when was trying to wrap her head round the fact that Jacob might never come back to her.
It is impossible not to relate to Martha in some aspects: Martha’s delight at reading Ovid’s stories that open doors to new worlds and new ideas or her fear that her past is not that far away and can be used to manipulate her, her sense of freedom once she sees how big the world is. Martha changes a lot throughout the book, becomes less naive, more worldly, but never loses her sincerity. She reflects on gender roles and how our identities are not set in stone. There are other equally compelling secondary characters that all make up a rich tapestry of this spellbinding story of love, longing and discovery.
I really enjoyed this captivating read set in one of the most fascinating historical periods and I can’t wait to return to Martha’s world and find out what future holds for her.
Eleanor Porter has lectured at Universities in England and Hong Kong and her poetry and short fiction has been published in magazines. The Wheelwright’s Daughter was her first novel.
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When I first started reading this post, I immediately thought it was set in the New England states (Thirteen Colonies). It sounds so good, wonderful review.
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I thought so too until they mentioned a few larger towns. It was good, beautifully-written.
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