Preview: Out Front the Following Sea by Leah Angstman

You really start to appreciate the Rule of Law and Human Rights, equality of sexes and social security when you read this book. As in 17th century New England life was like Taliban Afghanistan: religious intolerance, no rights for women and harsh punishments under religious men and hard soldiers.

The book is written by a historian and that shows in the details. Like that people would wear so many layers of clothing in winter you could not bend. That when you left a horse in the stable unattended in winter he would freeze. That from town to town you could see Dutch influences in the former Dutch colonies, Quakers in another and strict Anglicans in another and close to those Indians and French. I was flabbergasted that the fact that you spoke French or a native language was enough to get you hanged.

The novel starts a bit slow but is a thrilling read.

Ruth the main character is just 16 when the novel starts and living with a dying grandmother. She has been branded a witch as she burned her parent's house down killing them and just after that cattle had died. But Ruth never did that. Her childhood friend did by accident but as he was already in his teens the people would have hanged him for it. When her grandmother is about to die the townsfolk and the reverent refuse to come for her aid even when she as a midwife helped everyone been born and was a stout churchgoing. In her despair Ruth curses them all and has to flee for her life.

Ruth is quite a modern person who likes science and although hated by many also befriends people from rough sailors to Indian braves, from criminals to traumatised town folks. She is certainly a person you will rote for and you will be sad when bad things happen. A lot is happening and it is a complex and layered story that is a smooth read.

No sexual scenes mentioned although it happens. Trigger warnings: sexual violence, torture, death.

I really recommend this book.

Oh and maybe move the glossary in the Kindle version to the front as I only discovered the translations when I had finished the book. For me only the Indian language has been an enigma as I am Dutch and can understand French an German too but for most people that will all be very alien.


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