Novelist Writes about Seventeenth Century Ancestor

Review by James Pylant

A Scandalous Life: Rebel Puritan. By Jo Ann Butler. Published by Neverest Press. Softbound (2010), 324 pp., $16.99. Order online: malloybooks.com.

Herodias Long, the rebellious Puritan in Jo Ann Butler’s novel, was a real character in New England history. She was also Butler’s eighth great-grandmother. Through the pages of her book, it’s clear that the author spent many hours researching life in mid-Seventeenth century England and America to reconstruct an authenticate environment for Quaker martyr Herodias Long. Especially vivid in her novel is the depiction of the bubonic plague that strikes England in the 1630s. Through Rebel Puritan Butler brings to life the stark, harsh realities of colonial life and the scant options available for women.

Herodias Long, believed to have been a Devonshire girl, became the wife of John Hicks in London in 1637. While little is known of her British origins, Jo Ann Butler’s novel conjures a family for her, follows her marriage to Hicks, and their sailing across the sea to settle first in Massachusetts and later in Rhode Island. Along the way Rebel Puritan is studded with real historical figures such as the controversial Anne Hutchinson.

Rebel Puritan does not tell the complete story of Herodias Long’s life and her other two marriages, nor was that the author’s intention. It continues in a sequel, The Reputed Wife (2012). Genealogists and historians will appreciate the appendix, in which Jo Ann Butler explains what is fact and what is fiction. Several transcribed documents are also included.

Rebel Puritan (A Scandalous Life Book 1) is also available from Amazon.com (affiliate link).

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