In 1631 Elizabeth Winthrop, newly widowed with an infant daughter, set sail for the New World. Against a background of rigidity and conformity she dared to befriend Anne Hutchinson at the moment of her banishment from the Massachusetts Bay Colony; dared to challenge a determined army captain bent on the massacre of her friends, the Siwanoy Indians; and, above all, dared to love a man as her heart and her whole being commanded. And so, as a response to this almost unmatched courage and vitality, Governor John Winthrop came to refer to this woman in the historical records of the time as his “unregenerate niece.”
Anya Seton’s riveting historical novel portrays the fortitude, humiliation, and ultimate triumph of the Winthrop woman, who believed in a concept of happiness transcending that of her own day
Rating: A for narration; B+ for content
Originally published in 1958, The Winthrop Woman is a richly detailed piece of biographical fiction based on the life of Elizabeth Fones Winthrop Feake Hallett, niece of John Winthrop, one of the founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and its first Governor.
The book opens at Christmas 1618 when Elizabeth is just seven years old and she is travelling with her family to visit her well-to-do relatives, the Winthrops, at Groton in Suffolk. (Incidentally, most of the locations featured in the first part of the book are near where I live, which adds an extra layer of interest!)