Shelf Control #279: The Widow’s War by Sally Gunning

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Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. See the guidelines at the bottom of the post, and jump on board!

Title: The Widow’s War
Author: Sally Gunning
Published: 2006
Length: 336 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

The Red Tent meets The Scarlett Letter in this haunting historical novel set in a colonial New England whaling village.

“When was it that the sense of trouble grew to fear, the fear to certainty? When she sat down to another solitary supper of bread and beer and picked cucumber? When she heard the second sounding of the geese? Or had she known that morning when she stepped outside and felt the wind? Might as well say she knew it when Edward took his first whaling trip to the Canada River, or when they married, or when, as a young girl, she stood on the beach and watched Edward bring about his father’s boat in the Point of Rock Channel. Whatever its begetting, when Edward’s cousin Shubael Hopkins and his wife Betsey came through the door, they brought her no new grief, but an old acquaintance.”

When Lyddie Berry’s husband is lost in a storm at sea, she finds that her status as a widow is vastly changed from that of respectable married woman. Now she is the “dependent” of her nearest male relative—her son-in-law. Refusing to bow to societal pressure that demands she cede everything that she and her husband worked for, Lyddie becomes an outcast from family, friends, and neighbors—yet ultimately discovers a deeper sense of self and, unexpectedly, love.

Evocative and stunningly assured, The Widow’s War is an unforgettable work of literary magic, a spellbinding tale from a gifted talent.

How and when I got it:

I bought the Kindle edition 10 years ago. (!!)

Why I want to read it:

I got my first Kindle in 2011, and immediately began filling it up with books I found on sale or offered free. I don’t know which category this book fell in, but I do know that — according to the dates in my Kindle library — this was among the first 10 or so books I acquired.

I actually didn’t even remember that I had this until just now! But I can see from the description that this is a book that would have caught my attention. I do love a good historical novel, and I’m always on the lookout for historical fiction that either introduces me to a period I don’t know enough about or to a perspective I wouldn’t have otherwise.

Colonial-era historical fiction always appeals to me, and there’s something about The Widow’s War that catches my eye. I’m always interested in hearing the voices of women from different historical eras, particularly from times when a woman’s voice would have been silenced or subservient to the men around her. Reading the synopsis makes me want to know more about Lyddie, who she is as a person, and how her struggle for independence turns out.

I’m so glad I rediscovered this on my e-book list!

What do you think? Would you read this book? And can you recommend any other Colonial-era historical novels?

Please share your thoughts!


Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
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Have fun!

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Buy now: Amazon – Book Depository –

5 thoughts on “Shelf Control #279: The Widow’s War by Sally Gunning

  1. I didn’t even know you could see the dates of when you got books, interesting. This sounds really good, and The Red Tent comparison grabbed my attention, I loved that book!

    • Yes, under content and devices, you can sort by date acquired, oldest to newest or newest to oldest. It’s kind of embarrassing (for me) to see how many e-books I’ve accumulated over the years and never read…

      I am curious about the comparison to The Red Tent — I’m not seeing how a book set in Colonial America could have much in common with it, but I guess I’ll have to read to find out!

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