Historical fiction about influential young women fighting personal and political battles in the volatile era of Colonial America.
In the second installment of her series, Forbes (Climbing Jacob’s Ladder: The New World, Volume 1, 2013) once again tells three distinct but interconnected stories. This time, in the mid-1600s, Forbe begins with Lindy Brent, daughter of Amanda MacDougal, who was featured prominently in Volume 1. Lindy lives with her mentor, Margaret Brent, in a fledgling Maryland colony. Margaret, an active participant in politics, is showing Lindy how to follow in her footsteps. As Lindy navigates political turmoil—even taking up arms on one occasion—she finds a husband who supports her nontraditional ways. Forbes next shifts her focus, somewhat abruptly, to Esther Eaton, the adopted daughter of Lindy’s mother and stepfather. Esther, a light-skinned black woman, marries a white man without revealing her race. When Esther’s third baby is born with dark skin and coarse hair, her husband, a cruel military man, throws her out of their home with the baby. Esther finds herself sold into slavery and embroiled in an increasingly dangerous situation. Lastly, Forbes returns to Rachel Ward, who joined the historical figure Anne Hutchinson in Volume 1. A controversial spiritual leader, Hutchinson has many enemies, some who ultimately bring tragedy to the Hutchinson home. Rachel returns to her mother’s house, bringing Anne’s daughter Anna to live with them. Eventually, Rachel and Anna embark on an exciting new adventure together. Although Forbes’ narrative pacing remains fast and engaging, this book feels choppier than the last, with sudden shifts from one plotline to another. Even so, Forbes provides hefty historical information without rendering the storytelling didactic or dry. The tantalizing ending will leave readers expecting, and likely hoping, for a third volume in the series.
An engrossing tale of courage and perseverance that will appeal to history buffs and champions of women’s rights.