Saturday, July 6, 2013

Pre-Revolutionary Outcast

Seven Locks by Christin Wade

How does life unfold before you? Christine Wade’s book Seven Locks says that we unlock our lives. Our life is a great book lying before us. We can turn pages, but in order to jump chapters we need to open the locks. These are great events or experiences that change us. Turning points that shape us into who we are, so we can read on. The nameless narrator in Seven Locks is a mother of two with a lazy and self-indulgent husband. Our narrator is said to be a shrew for scolding her husband to do work. One day, after a fearsome fight between the two, the husband wanders off with his gun and his dog, never to return.

Set in pre-Revolutionary America, this tale is about a woman trying to run a farm, raise children, and deal with the humiliation of being left by her husband. It is historical fiction about domestic life. Although the main character can be a bit harsh, it is understandable given that she has had to run a farm and maintain her children’s well-being without help. That’s hard enough in today’s society, let alone in the 1700s when women didn’t live by themselves. Her life and tragedy become an urban legend. Her children disrespect her.

I found the atmosphere and setting captivating. I love hearing about how people ran their homes and how everyday life was conducted in past centuries. The narrator is very capable with her animals and the garden. Her children, however, are a difficulty. How does a woman reign in children who do not trust her and stop listening? The second part of the novel gets into the American Revolution and discusses common thoughts about the war, along with how normal people dealt with the onslaught.  Our narrator must deal with even more tragedy due to the war. 

The novel was at times captivating, but I was looking for it to end after a while. There were small breaks in the main character’s narrative for her daughter, Judith, to talk about what she was doing. I enjoyed hearing from the child and then from her as a young woman. As a naïve girl, her thoughts are selfish and naïve, but her spirit is ignited with the Revolution. The third part of the novel dealt almost exclusively with Judith after the war, when she herself was a wife and mother.  

For the most part I enjoyed the novel. It isn’t terribly memorable, but it was a relatively quick read and gave some insight into pre-Revolution life. The story was inspired by an American folktale and I think most of you will guess what said folktale is rather quickly.

Here are some readalikes for Seven Locks by Christine Wade:

If you want something based on a folktale, try The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

If you want something that explores the historical and cultural aspects of Colonial America try Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks

The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent is about a young girl in Salem, Massachusetts whose mother is accused of witchcraft and how they deal with being outcast. 

~Kristin M.

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