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The Widow's War (Satucket #1)

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,904 Ratings  ·  610 Reviews

Married for twenty years to Edward Berry, Lyddie is used to the trials of being a whaler's wife in the Cape Cod village of Satucket, Massachusetts—running their house herself during her husband's long absences at sea, living with the daily uncertainty that Edward will simply not return. And when her worst fear is realized, she finds herself doubly cursed. She is overwhelm

Kindle Edition, 300 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published February 1st 2006)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Aug 01, 2007 Jill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of historical fiction, women's issues, American history
Historical fiction at its best. Story of a woman struggling to retain a little autonomy at a time in American history that did not allow for this. After her husband dies, the widow of the title is determined to hold onto as much of her independent as possible but the law of the land dictates that she is now under the care of her closest male relative, a boorish son-in-law. She uses as much of the law as she can to fight the system. A fascinating look into life in New England in the mid-1700s.
Jun 26, 2015 Britany rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Massachusetts, early 1800s, Lyddie Berry finds herself suddenly widowed, and back then the laws stipulated that she has to move in with her son in law- Nathan Clarke (Evil Chauvinist!) and she stands up for herself and decides to live in her 1/3rd of her old house. Interesting to read about the lack of women's rights during this time period. I just wanted so much more! The characters were difficult to connect to, and towards the end I didn't really understand her relationships with the men in he ...more
Mar 10, 2010 Shauna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: yearly-favorites
I loved reading this book--it quickly became very obsessive. Most of the time, I read books in snatches here and there, easily setting my book down to attend to the needs of the day; but this book grabbed me and wouldn't permit me to let it go. I postponed dinner and waved my children away: let me finish! I rooted for Lyddie from the first chapter, and I was caught up in her plight for independence, rights and freedom. Acknowledging that my rooting may be influenced by my modern woman's perspect ...more
Sep 24, 2011 Joy rated it it was amazing
Okay, I'll try not to gush, because this is not a gushy (is that a word?) kind of book. It's as a hard-as-nails story about a widow living in the 1700's; the choices she had to make (not much choice)and the consequences of her choices.

I love Sally Gunning's writing style and if I had highlighted all the beautiful prose I would have quickly gone over the limit. Very visual, simple, and eloquent.

I couldn't help identifying with the widow since I once lived alone, and even fought the "system" a tim
The prose language held a convincing tone for the period. The locale descriptions superlative. We know the people, and their daily tasks and conversation habits. Solid story and the property rights issue was illustrative. But honestly, it was so revisionist in the pace of her changing choices and thoughts on self-identity that it made my believability meter go off like a siren. Women of the mid 18th century don't progress to 20th century choices and sensibilities, let alone actions, with such ju ...more
Diane S ☔
3.5 review to follow.
Jan 02, 2013 Heather rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Sad. I was REALLY liking this book. I would even say I was LOVING this book. I love historical fiction and strong female characters. It was fascinating to learn how the women in the 1760's were treated and what their life was like if they were widowed. I loved the characters in this book and the story/plot was intriguing. However, the last 3rd of the book left me so disappointed -- the characters morals, decisions, and even the plot left me annoyed, disgusted, and completely at odds with this bo ...more
Beata Bowen
I wish I could give this book two and a half stars.... It was better than "ok," but it was a bit disappointing. What started off as an interesting historical account of one woman's struggle for independence and a sense of self, soon descended into occasional pornographic descriptions of coupling and soap opera-like intrigue. Really, this could have been a much more serious book, but instead you might almost expect to see Fabio on the cover (wearing a wig, of course).
K. Lincoln
Aug 04, 2011 K. Lincoln rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sally Gunning has done her homework. She knows what Colonial Cape Cod folk ate, read, fished, and cooked. But strangely enough, she also seems to be able to look into their hearts: a widowed woman stubbornly set against signing away her rightful 'widow's thirds' of her husbands estate just to satisfy a son-in-law's greed, a Native American who walks a line between his own nation/beliefs and that of the white man's village, a lawyer who is caught up in the beginning stirrings of ideas about prope ...more
Julia Reed
Jun 07, 2011 Julia Reed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the first Sally Gunning book I read, and definitely also my favorite. Gunning's particular genre is historical fiction set in 18th century New England in the decades before the break out of the Revolutionary War. I've read several of Gunning's books, but The Widow's War remains my favorite because the characters are so compelling. When Lydia's husband dies in a whaling accident, she loses the right to her property and home and becomes the dependent of her really deplorable son-in-law. H ...more
Melissa T
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Timothy Bazzett
Feb 24, 2012 Timothy Bazzett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great read - compelling, page-turning historical fiction with a romantic triangle twist, yet so very LITerary too.

I found this book because the jacket copy in another more recent book, John Smolens' THE SCHOOLMASTER'S DAUGHTER, compared that book to Gunning's. I'm so glad I followed through on that comparison. I tore through this story, although I wanted to savor it. It was that good, so good you hate to put it down because you can't wait to see what happens next. It's a 1760s tale from colonial
I like historical fiction and when it's well done I enjoy it all the more. The Widow's War is both an intriguing story and a social study on the structure of a 1700 century whaling village in Massachusetts.

Lyddie Berry has taken good care of her home and her family for 20 years while her successful whale hunting husband is away. Her constant worry is that her husband will not return home. This sad case is exactly what happens at the start of the story.

In the midst of her grief she must also come
Feb 24, 2012 Jacqie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Four and a half stars, really.
This book was about a woman's struggle for independence in colonial Massachusetts. After being widowed from her fisherman husband, Liddie Berry is swept along in life's changes. She is expected to live the rest of her life with her daughter and jerk of a son-in-law,utterly dependent on them for any money, living space and food. All her belongings were really her husbands, and they all revert to her son-in-law. Liddie, to the surprise of herself as much as anyone, de
Oct 31, 2011 Lauriann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This satisfied my need for a now-and-then historical fiction read. The time is the 1760's, the place is Cape Cod and the era is Whaling. Lyddie is widowed as a result of a sea accident. She finds herself suddenly under the legal control of her mean and bullying son-in-law. Lyddie is feisty and is a 200 year old fore-runner of Betty Friedan as she tries to maintain her independence from his "rule." Legally she is entitled to live in one third of the home she created and shared with her now decea ...more
Mar 21, 2010 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is often the small, unknown details of history that can be woven into historical fiction that change our perception of a time or place. In The Widow’s War, Sally Gunning deftly brings to life an aspect of colonial law. Anyone who has studied history knows that life in America in the 1760s was difficult, and that the area of Cape Cod Massachusetts was dependent on the sea, which in turn produced many widows. What may not be known by the average reader was the law which entitled a widow to the ...more
Apr 16, 2008 Alexandra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historical fiction readers interested in colonial New England or women's rights
The things I really liked about this historical novel were the 18th-century colonial Massachusetts setting and the eye-opening look at how few rights women had in colonial times. What I didn't like was the back-and-forth, back-and-forth between the main character, Lyddie, and two men: a Native American neighbor and her lawyer, Eben Freeman. I felt like the author was kind of jerking me around about her relationship with both of them and whether or not the two men were good or bad. It got tedious ...more
Oct 19, 2008 Shirley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved reading this story of a determined, fiesty widow trying to retain control of her home after the death of her husband. The novel is set in 1760 when women had no right to own property so when Lyddie's fisherman husband drowns she is thrown of the mercies of her controlling son-in-law. His main concern is to make money from her property and drive her out of her home. Both widow and son-in-law are ingenious in the relentlessness. A pleasure to read.
Apr 13, 2016 May rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked it. More 3.5 stars than 4. I found myself anxious for the Widow throughout the story. The story line was developed skillfully: portraying the cultural, religious and legal strictures that controlled a woman's choices in early American life.

I do recommend it to readers of HF and strong women.
Apr 04, 2016 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really, really liked this book. I'm always intrigued by the hand women were so unfairly dealt throughout history. I would've given it 5 stars but there were a few parts that seemed to ramble needlessly. All in all, great read if you like strong female characters set within historical contexts.
Jul 16, 2010 Jan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I really liked this excellent book- historical fiction at it's best! Very well-written, it's the engrossing story of one woman's struggle to keep her home after her husband dies at sea, and of her search for love and personal freedom on her own terms.
Oct 12, 2013 Cheryl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sally Gunning writes an excellent story with writing that brings vivid images and well-developed characters. This is the second book I have read by her and am beginning a third. Bravo!
Dolores Riccio
Oct 03, 2015 Dolores Riccio rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The plight of a widow in the 18th century was demeaning, cruel, and downright dangerous. Gunning’s novel gives us a heroine who stood up to the injustices of her time with pluck and fortitude, without losing her womanly sympathy, caring heart, and passionate nature. The two men who pursued her couldn't have been more opposite, yet both of them presented particular dangers to her hard-won freedom, which will keep you turning the pages long past bedtime. I rooted for the widow Lyddie to resolve he ...more
At the age of 39 Lyddie had been married to Edward for 20 years. Set in Massachusetts in the late 1700's she finds herself in quite a predicament when Edward dies in a whaling accident at sea. When Lyddie Berry's husband is lost in this whaling disaster she finds that her status as a widow is vastly changed from that of respectable married woman. She is now classified as the dependent of her nearest male relative—a ruthless son-in-law—who sets out to strip her of everything she and her husband w ...more
Nov 24, 2013 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club, hf
I've never read anything by this author. This story was set in colonial times pre-revolutionary war and that is apparently her area of expertise. The best thing for me about the book was all the historical detail. The story follows a woman who is widowed when her whaler husband dies during a hunt. How does Lyddie survive when the cultural and legal norms of the time would take everything away from her. A relatively progressive thinking lawyer for her husband, educates and supports her in obtaini ...more
Aug 04, 2011 Heidi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book and tore through it. Set in the years before the American Revolution, on Cape Cod,'The Widow's War' is the story of Lyddie Berry - the new widow of a whaler. She discovers upon his death, that she has been willed one third of the use of her husband's house, plus her original dowry -- nothing more.

I do need to say that I don't think I have ever read an entire book that focuses around the rights (or lack of rights) of women during colonial time period and it was a fasc
I really enjoyed this novel by Sally Gunning. I particularly enjoyed the main character Lydia Berry and her struggle to find her place in the world after her husband passes away.

Edward Berry is a whaler, married twenty years to Lyddie, when an unfortunate turn of events leads to his death. It is what Lyddie has feared her entire married life. Grieving for her loss she moves into her daughter and son-in-law's home and finds that she is unable to do what is expected of her. Instead she breaks wit
Jun 02, 2008 Nicole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lyddie Edwards received her widows thirds from her son by marriage because in 1761 it was illegal for a woman to own property. A widow might be entitled to life use of one third of her husbands property but title went to the nearest male heir despite their relative abilities. Lyddie like so many widows of whalers was used to being responsible for herself while her husband, Edward, was at sea. A whalers wife must see to herself, her children and her household for months while the men sailed to tr ...more
Sep 16, 2011 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is well-researched and informative historical fiction. It takes place in Cape Cod in the year 1761 and follows the travails of Lyddie Berry, who is recently widowed. As is typical in this time period, when her husband drowns in a boating accident, Lyddie is entitled to use of one third of her husband’s estate, with the remaining going to the nearest male heir, which for Lyddie is her less than stellar son-in-law. Gunning creates a strong believable character in Lyddie and one I found myself ...more
Mar 16, 2009 Jacki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one took me a little longer to read, maybe because it was a busy weekend, I don't know. I just didn't make time to read it.

When I did finally sit down, I devoured it and really loved it. Lyddie was a really relatable character and my heart just broke for what was happening to her. I was really glad that the author included some information, at the end, about how life really was during the year she had written about. It is fascinating and it was inspiring to read about a woman who bucked the
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Sally Cabot Gunning lives with her husband in Brewster on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. A graduate of the University of Rhode Island and a lifelong resident of New England, she is active in the local historical society and creates tours that showcase the three-hundred-year history of her village. Gunning came to fiction writing at a young age, driven to it in desperation one rainy day when she ran out ...more
More about Sally Cabot Gunning...

Other Books in the Series

Satucket (3 books)
  • Bound
  • The Rebellion of Jane Clarke

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