The Widow's War by Sally Cabot Gunning

The Widow's War

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 overwhelmed by grief, and her property and rights are now legally in the hands of h...

Details The Widow's War

TitleThe Widow's War
Release DateOct 13th, 2009
Publisher HarperCollins e-books
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Literature, 18th Century

Reviews The Widow's War

  • Jill
    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 ...
  • 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 i...
  • Britany
    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 real...
  • Jane
    Interesting novel about an 18th century widow who tries to maintain some independence of thought and action, after the death of her whaler husband of 20 years. She fights against the strictures on women of her day and against her overbearing son-in-law's controlling. Her main ally is a lawyer. Much food for thought here; wow, I'm glad I live in this day and age!
  • Shauna Hruby
    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 rooti...
  • 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 on...
  • Jeanette
    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 ...
  • 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 annoy...
  • 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 (weari...
  • Diane S ☔
    3.5 review to follow.
  • K. Lincoln
    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 ...
  • Julia
    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 th...
  • Melissa T
    This started off so promising, but just fell flat. I did appreciate the author's research, and felt she accurately portrayed a typical day in the life of a colonist woman, as well as many of the attitudes and prejudices too. But, I sincerely doubt a woman who was promiscuous, and with a Native American no less, would be able to still remain a relatively cheerful member of society. Sure, she was shunned by the church and church-goers, but somehow ...
  • 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 ...
  • 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...
  • 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 h...
  • 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 ...
  • 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 avera...
  • Pamela
    Triumphantly so, "Widow's War" is a grand masterpiece. Everything - - golden five-star praise.Widow's War is an ebb and flow awakening story of cornerstone importance, capturing the essences of social, spiritual, political, and cultural customs during pre-Revolutionary America. It's 1761 in a small Cape Cod village and the sea of change churns up a mighty storm. Billo...
  • 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 t...
  • Alexandra
    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 o...
  • 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 ...
  • 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 ...
  • May
    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.
  • Amy
    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.
  • Jan
    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.
  • Cheryl
    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!
  • Carol
    Loved this book. Loved the setting, loved the characters, loved the plot. This author has a great talent for writing early American historical fiction that is completely believable.
  • Nancy Laffey
    4.5 starsI enjoyed this book very much. It is set in 1761 and tells the story of the Widow Berry and how life is like for women in the 18th century. She had some very hard choices to make after her husband dies and the consequences for her actions are quite extreme at times. This is book one in a series of three. I had read book two years ago and once I finished The Widow's War I had to read Bound (book two) again. It held up to the original 4.5 ...
  • 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 ...