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American Jezebel: The Uncommon Life of Anne Hutchinson, the Woman Who Defied the Puritans

3.55 of 5 stars 3.55  ·  rating details  ·  544 ratings  ·  90 reviews
Anne Hutchinson, a forty-six- year-old midwife who was pregnant with her sixteenth child, stood before forty male judges of the Massachusetts General Court, charged with heresy and sedition. In a time when women could not vote, hold public office, or teach outside the home, the charismatic Hutchinson wielded remarkable political power. Her unconventional ideas had attracte ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published March 2nd 2004 by HarperOne (first published March 2004)
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dude, this book is so sweet. It has given me a solid sense of the history of the Europeans who settled what is now Boston. It's fun to read about what happened in the place you currently live. As someone employed peripherally by Harvard, it's also funny to think about what LaPlante says near the beginning of the book -- that Harvard college was essentially founded to protect the MENZ Important Learnings from Evil Womenz Witches like Anne Hutchinson.

This book stirs pride in my little heart for a
I like Anne Hutchinson (1591-1643) . She challenged the social order and made a difference. The rigid religious order to which she subscribed, Puritan, allowed only "educated men" to act in the role of spiritual overseer or pastor. She predated John Wesley in advocating that no intermediary or overseer was required and that the individual could obtain God's grace without help from others. And in so doing she challenged the concept of denominations or at least the concept of "the right" denominat ...more
Julie Bell
I understand that this was a difficult read; there were lots of details and it was hard to put the whole picture together. Many rabbit trails. However, I must say that I'm very glad to have read this book and am very happy to know about Anne Hutchinson's life. I'm fairly amazed all that she accomplished and really surprised that I never knew about her, before. She is not a feminist that waves a NOW sign and burns her bra, but she is an assertive, intelligent person who happens to be a woman. If ...more
Robert Pajer
Eve Laplante’s American Jezebel is an engaging exposition of one of America’s most notable forgotten women, Anne Hutchinson. Creating vivid scenes of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Rhode Island, the Dutch occupied New Amsterdam (later to become New York), and through historical flashbacks, Laplante manages to draw the reader into the, at times, laborious and uneven narrative structure of the Hutchinson trial. It quickly becomes evident that the real issue for then Governor John Winthrop is not th ...more
Ron Charles
Early in "Civil Disobedience," Henry David Thoreau wonders why government refuses to "cherish its wise minority." He asks, "Why does it always crucify Christ and excommunicate Copernicus and Luther, and pronounce Washington and Franklin rebels?"

His friend Margaret Fuller might have wryly asked why the martyrs who come to mind are all men. After all, until relatively recently, women were silenced long before their ideas could enjoy even the benefit of being denounced.

How ironic that the first gre
Val Sanford
Fantastic exploration of the political and religious issues of Anne Hutchinson and the Massachusetts Bay Colony. LaPlante delves into the religious conflict between the emerging Protestants and the Anglican Church in England and then continues the story in America, with the conflict between the different beliefs and values of the men in power. Anne Hutchinson's story is a remarkable story about faith in oneself and living by your conviction. It's also a fantastic exploration of the not-so-nice r ...more
This is an interesting examination of the trial of Anne Hutchinson by the leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony for heresy in holding meetings in her home to share her interpretations of what the preachers had taught and what the Bible said.

In the process of this examination, the author gives brief, and in some cases, not-so-brief, descriptions of the lives and histories of not only Anne and her family members, but also many of the other people in New England at that time--those who were on he
I love my book club dearly and love the challenges it offers. Let's face it--I never would have chosen this book for myself (even though I agreed it sounded interesting) and I certainly would NEVER, EVER have finished it without the pressure of the club. That said--this was the worst book I read in 2010. And yes, I did start this in 2010. Like in October. And I didn't finish it until the last day of January 2011 (because I told myself this could NOT drag into February).

The topic is interesting.
This book was very slow going for me, but I'm still glad I read it. The author, a descendant of Anne Hutchinson, describes the trial of Anne Hutchinson that was conducted in early 17th c. Boston on the charges basically of "preaching" but probably more accurately, of speaking critically about other local preachers. The author reviews written records of the trial, as well as personal correspondence/memoirs of many of the key players in order to write her history, and fills in the edges with other ...more
I was really interested in reading something about Anne Hutchinson and Anne Bradstreet after reading Geraldine Brooks' excellent new book "Caleb's Crossing". This book, "American Jezebel", not only provided background on Hutchinson (and a little for Bradstreet), but also helped deepen my understanding of why America is so schizophenic about religion and the role of women in society. While the book was a bit of a slog at times, Anne Hutchinson's story is unbelieveable. Born in England and sailing ...more
Jan 04, 2013 Liz rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012, 2013
I was prompted to read this book when my 5th grade daughter chose Anne Hutchinson for a research project, and I had never even heard of her. Hutchinson was a 17th century Massachusetts colonist who was banished and excommunicated ostensibly for her unorthodox beliefs but mainly because her intellect and certitude threatened the Puritan power structure. And the men in charge did not like being schooled by a woman. LaPlante's book argues that she is our "founding mother," one of the progenitors of ...more
When I read nonfiction, the books I tend to be interested in are usually about theology, history, or feminism. This biography contains all of that and more. I knew very little about Anne Hutchinson before reading this and came away with deep respect for the woman who consistently held her ground against the men who wanted her silenced and banished. Eve LaPlante did a nice job providing vivid historical, cultural, and religious context which made Hutchinson's story feel as relevant as ever. Thoug ...more
Beth Clothier
Puritans, man. What a bunch of dicks.
I enjoyed learning about Hutchinson, but her story the book was weighed down by an overabundance of minor details about the people surrounding her making it a difficult read in some spots. While I appreciate the extent of the research that went into the book and understand that it's important to understand the context of the story and lives of those involved I found it distracting. Overall, though, I'm glad to have a better understanding of Hutchinson's role in American History. Also, glad I was ...more
This book was awesome! Actually, way more awesome than I expected it to be. I had trouble getting into the book, but once I finally got past the first chapter or so I was hooked. Anne Hutchinson was a total badass, and it's fascinating to read her words and learn about the Puritan mindset and way of life. What really struck me was how absorbed Puritans were with their eternal souls. They thought about almost *nothing* else. They could argue for hours about theological concepts that I've never ev ...more
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Jess Boynton
I really enjoyed this book even if it was a bit dry in areas. I don't know if it was more interesting to me b/c she was my great (something) grand-mother. She produced a great many political and religious leaders throughout American history. She almost feels like an American mother b/c of how many of her desendents followed in her footsteps. She was a truly amazing woman.
David Orphal
Well researched and well written, American Jezebel tells the story of Anne Hutchinson's life, her spiritual philosophy and influence, and her defiance of patriarchal power in Massachusetts colony.

Drawing extensively from the oldest surviving copies of her civil and, later, religious trial, LaPlante takes her reader into the courtrooms and presents the drama with only a minimum of flash backs and asides to fill in necessary background information.

The result is a very readable history.

The indirect progenitor of Harvard University, and the co-founder of Rhode Island, from which our true religious freedom and the First Amendment arose.

Hutchinson came to Massachusetts in the 1600's as a Puritan refugee, and found herself at odds with John Winthrop, possibly the original male chauvinist pig. Puritans came to America seeking freedom to worship as they believed, and, at least under the rule of John Winthrop, immediately began oppressing any and all who otherwise deviated from thei
As a descendant of a person who came to New England at this time, and was probably a Puritan, I better understand the world into which he immigrated. I appreciated Ms LaPlante's efforts to present the religious debates of the time; however, these explanations at times overwhelmed me with excessive detail, especially in the detailed description of the final charges against Anne. The strength of this book is that I now know the historic figures such at Winthrop, Cotton and Hutchinson--of course. T ...more
Dolores Marconi
Jun 06, 2015 Dolores Marconi rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who can read.
Recommended to Dolores by: No one.
"The Uncommon Life of Anne Hutchinson, the Woman Who Defied the Puritans" is a long title for a book on one's family; when a book is about the detailed history the GW Bush clan one must make allowances. If you bet on a horse, as in a U.S. presidential election, you must know everything possible about that horse and it's trainers.
G.W. Bush's maternal grandmother is said to be related to Anne Hutchinson.
This is a beautiful and highly informative work of art. I have a first edition that is lik
Jeff Elliott
Although not quite what I had expected you have to appreciate the huge amount of research done by the author. A few things stuck out as I was reading.
1. The amount of bible knowledge that the normal Puritan had far outweighs that of most of today's pastors (including me).

2. The English language during Shakespeare's time was certainly beautiful and almost incomprehensible to today's reader.

A few notes:
Roger Williams on his refusal to support the conversion (and killing, if necessary) of Indians i
Some parts of this biography were fascinating, but I had two main objections to the book. The first was a mixed complaint - it was extremely well studied and documented. Transcripts of her trials proved to be both interesting at times and tedious at others. Mostly because the main points had been made previously, so it felt redundant to have another telling quote from the governor about Anne's accusations. While I was impressed with how factual the account was, I found myself hoping that she'd j ...more
The author of this book started off professing her intention to make the book a neutral examination of Anne Hutchinson's life. While I will give her the credit for trying, she did not succeed. Her feminist hero worship of Anne and, what seemed to me to be a distain of religion made the task all but impossible for her.

This is not to say the book is without merit. I may have learned a great deal about the way early Puritan settlements worked and how their members viewed the world. I say may becau
John Bascom
A good and interesting historical non-fiction book about Anne Hutchinson, a member of the Boston Puritan community in the mid-sixteen hundreds.

Viewed by some as the mother of the American feminist movement, Hutchinson was outspoken, iconoclastic, opinionated and charismatic; characteristics that were unthinkable for a Puritan woman of that era. For her trouble she was excommunicated, imprisoned, banished and ultimately killed in the aftermath. Her "crimes" were to espouse an alternate opinion to
I was dying to read this book for ages when I saw in the college library because I'm an Americanist by training and my major field of study is American Religious History. Further, I'm one of those obnoxious souls who can read a book about Puritan New England and discover that some intrepid historian has dug-up one of my ancestors being saved or hanged, depending on the day. Growing-up in Massachusetts, Anne Hutchinson is one of the state's more (infamous) characters who always fascinated me and ...more
Themes: gender roles, religion, separation of church and state, individual freedom versus community
Setting: Massachusetts 1638 or so

Anne Hutchinson was a terrible threat to the Puritan fathers of Boston. She discussed scriptures. And she was a woman. That's really about it. She also didn't agree with them, but I think even if she had, the idea that a woman was perfectly capable of reading, writing, reasoning, and preaching was going to make them very uncomfortable, no matter what else she did.

If I could, I'd give this 2 1/2 stars. I liked it, but parts of it were slow. The most interesting part was Anne Hutchinson's trial. The book begins with the start of the trial, but its progress is frequently interrupted by chapters of backstory. I can't think of a narrative structure that would have worked better, but I frequently felt frustrated when such a break would come just as I'd gotten absorbed.

There were also some speculative moments where the author said things like "Anne Hutchinson
I really enjoyed this book. LaPlante was thorough in her research even to the point of painting pictures in the minds of the reader about what Hutchinson's walk to the court house would have beem like.

You really see how harsh authoritarian leaders can be with a Bible in their hands. In an effort to protect their doctrine which they believed to be the truth of Christ, they ended up going to far and not acting like Jesus at all. I know they all lived in a different culture and that people learn fr
Beth Evans
I'd like to give it four stars because of the material and the thoroughness of the research. But lots of the book is really hard going, with flashbacks and side trails and discussions of rather arcane religious philosophies. However, Anne Hutchinson is a fascinating character; I knew her name and a tiny bit about her but was amazed by her intellect, resolve, and refusal to back down before the leaders of the Mass. Bay Colony. Perhaps Anne deserves another book that humanizes her and lets the rea ...more
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MARMEE & LOUISA, Eve's groundbreaking biography of Louisa May Alcott and her mother, is out in paperback. MY HEART IS BOUNDLESS, the first compilation of the private papers of Abigail May Alcott, the real "Marmee," which Eve edited, is also available in paperback.

Eve's previous books are the biographies AMERICAN JEZEBEL and SALEM WITCH JUDGE, the winner of the Massachusetts Book Award for Non
More about Eve LaPlante...
Marmee and Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother Salem Witch Judge: The Life and Repentance of Samuel Sewall Seized: Temporal Lobe Epilepsy as a Medical, Historical, and Artistic Phenomenon My Heart is Boundless : Writings of Abigail May Alcott, Louisa's Mother

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“Unlike her judges, she suggested that words do not have set meanings, that there is a gap between speaker and listener, and that human understanding always “falls short of absolute truth.” 0 likes
“Shocking many, Puritans wore hats in church (following Jewish practice), refused to bow or kneel during worship (which they saw as a violation of the third commandment), and allowed pigs and chickens in the church, and some of them didn’t even know the Lord’s Prayer.” 0 likes
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