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The Widow's War (Satucket #1)

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3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  2,955 ratings  ·  503 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

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Kindle Edition, 300 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published February 1st 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jill
Aug 01, 2007 Jill rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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.
Shauna
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
Joy
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
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Ruth
Jun 28, 2011 Ruth rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: History buffs/women's rights
Recommended to Ruth by: Kindle listing
I turned to this book on a busy traveling weekend and started reading it on my Kindle simply for convenience and easy carrying with me. I was greatly surprised and deeply impressed with the story of Lyddie, the wife of a whaler/seaman who never came home. It is based in the 16th century in Satucket, Mass. before the Revolutionary War and tells the story of a spirited, surviving woman who fights for her legal rights in an era when women were expected to work hard, bear children, and defer to teir ...more
K. Bird
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
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Timothy Bazzett
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
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Mckinley
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
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Jacqie
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
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Lauriann
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
Amy
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
Nikie Elwood
This book was a cheap purchase on my Nook and it has been given great reviews but I am not a fan. I really liked Gunning's description of an 18th century whaling village on Cape Cod; I thought the descriptions were beautiful, but that is about all I liked. I thought it was a bodice ripper disguised as historical fiction. I hate it when an author inserts 21st century thinking and mores into historical settings. Within months of her husband dying in a whaling accident, our heroine, Lyddie, has pas ...more
Alexandra
Apr 16, 2008 Alexandra rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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
Heather
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
Shirley
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.
Nina
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
Chris
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
Barb
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
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Nicole
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
Linda
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
Jacki
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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Shari Larsen
When Lyddie Berry's husband drowns in 1761 in a whaling disaster, Lyddie discovers her status as a widow is not equal to her status as a wife. She is entitled to her "widow's thirds", but all the rest of her property goes to her closest living male relative, her tight-fisted son-in-law Nathan.

Although she is grieving and destitute, Lyddie finds the strength challenge Nathan when he violates the terms of her husband's will, and refuses to sign over her third of the share when he wants to sell the
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ThePinkCarrot
This book started cold and grey. That's what the weather is like outside too. Every time Lyddie walked in the cold and the mud, every time she talked about the need for smoke and fire, I was there. The starkness of the water and the grey, grey, grey --that's New England this winter.
Shelley
This is really an interesting book. Not enough to actually read through, but I skimmed thoroughly, if such a thing is possible. It's set pre-Revolution; when a self-reliant whaler's wife ends up a widow, she chafes at the law that the nearest male relative gets control over her husband's property as well as her. She loathes her son-in-law, and it's pretty mutual. She takes a stand - pushes for her house, her independence - and loses the respect of her entire community and family. Not to mention ...more
Tamara
The only reason I didn't go with 5 stars is because I found it slow in the beginning. Once I got hooked, I fell in love with the flawed main character. Independent, stubborn, struggling for survival and self reliance, at odds with her family and God, in a community where it was a punishable crime to not attend church, I loved how strong and real she was. The ending was satisfying, not cliche at all, and it handled ambivalent feelings well. The historical research was compelling, and I had just s ...more
Chana Snyder
Like a starving dog to a fresh meal, so how I devoured Sally Gunning's 'A Widow's War'. Having read 'Bound' first, I was delighted to delve into the origins of my new favorite couple, Lydia Berry and Eben Freeman. What a world Gunning weaves, as pragmatic and durable as the bedding ticks her upon which her characters take their slumber, but bursting at the seams with drama and scandal, and of course the rumbling dissent of the pre-revolutionary period. And that insufferable son-in-law!

My only cr
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Angie Bollard
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Carol Cronin
The best historical fiction allows the reader to experience a different time while following a character so fascinating she makes you forget you're reading history. The Widow's War does all of this and more. Set on the shore of Cape Cod Bay in the 1760's, we get just enough information to imagine this small seaside town that houses one of the best heroines ever. After she is widowed, Lyddie challenges the law that transfers the ownership of her home to her closest male relative... and along the ...more
Sabrina
What a GREAT book!!!!!

In trying to explain this book to a co-worker yesterday, I realized I'll never do justice to the story-line. It sounded so boring, coming out of my mouth, BUT it's not. Between the great writing, solid plot, a couple of twists and a little suspense (which I did not see coming), this book really kept me up all night trying to finish.

I have to admit, I could have done without the slight suspense presented . . . I would rather have had a logical explanation come out about why
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Sally Cabot Gunning, a history buff specializing in the eighteenth century, lives with her husband in Brewster, Massachusetts, in an old cottage not far from Cape Cod Bay. (from the publisher's website)"
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