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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
To open this novel is to enter 18th-century American history, as Gunning re-creates a Cape Cod whaling village to tell the absorbing story of her determined protagonist, Lyddie Berry. When Lyddie's husband, Edward, leaves on a fishing expedition, it is the last time she will see him alive. Lost at sea, Edward has left Lyddie a widow. But a widow in 18th-century Massachusetts didn't have the rights widows now have, and Lyddie's grief soon turns to smoldering anger as she watches her husband's home and property handed over to her officious son-in-law.
As a widow, Lyddie is entitled to a third of her home and faces a choice: either inhabit that small section or receive a third of the price should her son-in-law sell the house. Shocked by the unfairness of such terms, Lyddie refuses to acquiesce and soon squares off against her son-in-law, alienating herself from her daughter. In short order, Lyddie becomes an outcast. Nearly destitute, she turns to her Indian neighbors for help. In so doing, Lyddie plumbs a newfound strength and tenacity and forges a new life for herself -- a life of unheard-of independence. What is perhaps most fascinating about The Widow's War is the consideration of all that has changed since those early days -- and all that has stayed the same. (Spring 2006 Selection)