Beheld
From the bestselling author of The Wives of Los Alamos comes the riveting story of a stranger’s arrival in the fledgling colony of Plymouth, Massachusetts―and a crime that shakes the divided community to its core.Ten years after the Mayflower pilgrims arrived on rocky, unfamiliar soil, Plymouth is not the land its residents had imagined. Seemingly established on a dream of religious freedom, in reality the town is led by fervent puritans who prohibit the residents from living, trading, and worshipping as they choose. By the time an unfamiliar ship, bearing new colonists, appears on the horizon one summer morning, Anglican outsiders have had enough.With gripping, immersive details and exquisite prose, TaraShea Nesbit reframes the story of the pilgrims in the previously unheard voices of two women of very different status and means. She evokes a vivid, ominous Plymouth, populated by famous and unknown characters alike, each with conflicting desires and questionable behavior.Suspenseful and beautifully wrought, Beheld is about a murder and a trial, and the motivations―personal and political―that cause people to act in unsavory ways. It is also an intimate portrait of love, motherhood, and friendship that asks: Whose stories get told over time, who gets believed―and subsequently, who gets punished?

Beheld Details

TitleBeheld
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 17th, 2020
PublisherBloomsbury Publishing
ISBN-139781635573220
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Mystery, Historical Mystery, Literature, 17th Century, Thriller, Mystery Thriller, Adult, Adult Fiction, Novels

Beheld Review

  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    It has been ten years since the first pilgrims arrived on the Mayflower and formed a colony. William Bradford is the governor and Miles Standish, the muscle. Had to laugh as Standish is referred to in this book as , "the shrimp." Small in stature but full of himself. The colony did not contain all Puritans, though they were the leading authority. There were also indentured servants, who by now had worked out their years of servivutude and were promised equality. Needless to say, this was not the It has been ten years since the first pilgrims arrived on the Mayflower and formed a colony. William Bradford is the governor and Miles Standish, the muscle. Had to laugh as Standish is referred to in this book as , "the shrimp." Small in stature but full of himself. The colony did not contain all Puritans, though they were the leading authority. There were also indentured servants, who by now had worked out their years of servivutude and were promised equality. Needless to say, this was not the way it happened, they were still seen as lesser and treated so. This would create bitterness and hard feelings, one that would be the impetus of America's first murder.Of course that isn't actually true if one considers the slaughter of the Native Americans.What sets this book apart from others written about this time period, is that the author gives us the viewpoint of the women. In alternating chapters we hear from Alice, the governors wife, and Eleanor, the wife of the accused. We learn their backstories and how they feel about events as they are happening. Considered lesser, their power is limited, but their workload heavy. Hypocrisy alongside fervent belief, is the rule of the colony or at least how it was perceived by some. Regardless, this wasn't a happy little place, rather a place where much was happening beneath the surface. Although a murder is committed, which is historical fact, this is not a mystery and has few graphic scenes.The characters are vibrantly portrayed and the story of our country's beginning an engrossing one.ARC from Netgalley and Edelweiss.
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  • Fran
    January 1, 1970
    "We thought ourselves a murderless colony. In God's good favor, we created a place on a hill, overlooking the sea, in the direction from which we came." Ten years later, in 1630, the community of Plymouth, Massachusetts experienced its first murder.A contingent of Puritans had left England to reside in Leiden, Holland. The Dutch allowed them to "worship without hindrance", however, worshipers were embracing a "Dutchness", learning the Dutch language and customs. In addition, there was fear that "We thought ourselves a murderless colony. In God's good favor, we created a place on a hill, overlooking the sea, in the direction from which we came." Ten years later, in 1630, the community of Plymouth, Massachusetts experienced its first murder.A contingent of Puritans had left England to reside in Leiden, Holland. The Dutch allowed them to "worship without hindrance", however, worshipers were embracing a "Dutchness", learning the Dutch language and customs. In addition, there was fear that the Spanish might attack Holland. A ship called "Speedwell" was commissioned to transport these Puritans to Southampton, England to meet up with other Puritans sailing from England aboard the Mayflower. "Speedwell" had frequent leaks and was deemed unsuitable for a long sea voyage. The Mayflower was required to transport the "Speedwell" travelers as well. A miserable journey ensued. The Mayflower was overcrowded and food was in short supply.Who were the passengers? Although Puritans intended to create a community of believers and "purify" practices of the Church of England, the voyagers included Anglican indentured servants. Told from a woman's perspective, the unrest, resentment, and hypocrisy between Puritan elders and indentured servants is revealed. Strained relations intensified aboard the Mayflower. The Puritans were forced to accept non-religious passengers to help fund the voyage. John Billington, an indentured servant and wife Eleanor, were sitting in a central location on the ship. When affluent William Bradford boarded the overcrowded Mayflower, he demanded that Billington move his family from the ship's center. During a storm, water was likely to cascade over the side. Billington's response to Bradford was, "Perhaps you should go back to Holland. Perhaps God does not want you to see the New World." Ten years have passed. It is now 1630.According to Alice Bradford, "of all the regrets William had about negotiations with the investors, at the top of his list was that John Billington was allowed to sign up as an indentured servant, bring his family, and board the Mayflower...[Governor Bradford] considered Billington to be...the elder of the most profane family..." "Since I became the governor's wife the women told me less. 'I was the earpiece to authority.' "Eleanor Billington reported, "we agreed to seven years of labor with respectable, ordinary British people. We agreed to seven years of servitude in Virginia, not Plymouth...my kind, my common kind, we are never given what we are promised...It made our men sour..." "Plymouth was the England that John Billington tried to escape...Instead of King James, there was Governor Bradford and his hired soldier, Myles Standish." Billington composed a letter and sent it to the colony investors complaining of ill treatment. Alice stated, "Quick to see threat and quick to act upon it. I did not doubt my husband was godly...[but] when a man betrayed him, he did not forget..."."Beheld" by TaraShea Nesbit is a well researched, captivating work of historical fiction, a window into the lives of the women as well as the men who settled Plymouth colony. Plymouth was advertised as "fertile and abundant" land. The colony touted its years of experience. New settlers arrived seeking freedom from repression, escape from criminal convictions, inexpensive land or exciting new adventure. Plymouth and the surrounding colonies started to become more open to "strangers". Author Nesbit's novel is an awesome read that I highly recommend.Thank you Bloomsbury Publishing and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review "Beheld".
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  • marilyn
    January 1, 1970
    Beheld is not a feel good book. In this historical fiction taking place ten years after the first Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth, things are tense, inhospitable and not at all what they had hoped for when they left their former countries for a new land, full of promise, hope, and imagined glories. Those who left their countries for religious freedom are all too happy to impose their beliefs on everyone else. The indentured servants that they needed to even have a chance of surviving in the new Beheld is not a feel good book. In this historical fiction taking place ten years after the first Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth, things are tense, inhospitable and not at all what they had hoped for when they left their former countries for a new land, full of promise, hope, and imagined glories. Those who left their countries for religious freedom are all too happy to impose their beliefs on everyone else. The indentured servants that they needed to even have a chance of surviving in the new world have never been allowed to rise up from their lowly levels. Class segregation is at its worst. Some of the new leadership is only too happy to murder innocent people, in the name of whatever rules they have made up. Some of the friendly, helpful Indians have been slaughtered to show the rest of them who is in control. Food, all provisions, are scarce and even though the existing Pilgrims in the new country need more people to come to their world to get much needed supplies and financing, they also fear that the new people will be those who are "not them". They fear being outnumbered by those with beliefs different from their own. The story is told from several different perspectives. Alice and Eleanor play the biggest parts in telling their story although Nature even gets a turn to show who is really running the show. In nature, there are peaceful scenes that can then be shattered by animals not only attacking other animals for food, but also wolves attacking their own weaker kin. This is also reflected in how the humans treat each other, tearing down those who are already down, not allowing them to even get a foothold or feeling of security. Staying on top by keeping everyone else under one's foot. One of the most sympathetic characters is a young man who is murdered by a former indentured servant, whose anger has reached its limit, as the former servant is cheated and held down by those who hold all the cards in this game of life. There are also young children who have been sold as slaves by their father, because he no longer wants to care for them. All the indentured servants are at the mercy of their owners and there are Godly men who do unmentionable things behind closed doors. A young woman who is raped by her owner's brother is killed for getting pregnant. Nothing is fair in this life, cruelty is badly disguised as justice. Thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing/Macmillan and Edelweiss for this ARC. 
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  • Tami
    January 1, 1970
    This was not quite what I was expecting. I knew when I began reading that the story was set in Plymouth, just a few years after the Puritans arrived on the Mayflower. The hardships of the times and the journey on the Mayflower were an important part of the story. I was captivated by the details of the times and how their beliefs influenced their decisions.Told from two very different points of view, readers will see how the colony became full of conflict, how they often misunderstood each other This was not quite what I was expecting. I knew when I began reading that the story was set in Plymouth, just a few years after the Puritans arrived on the Mayflower. The hardships of the times and the journey on the Mayflower were an important part of the story. I was captivated by the details of the times and how their beliefs influenced their decisions.Told from two very different points of view, readers will see how the colony became full of conflict, how they often misunderstood each other and how often times they did not live up to their religious beliefs.When a man is murdered, a trial is held. Of course, the results are no surprise, but neither was the murder. This is definitely a story that portrays how wealth and status can influence a community and how those who voice their grievances are often portrayed as the troublemakers. I was expecting a bit more mystery surrounding the murder, but instead I found it very predictable.Many thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury Publishing for allowing me to read an advance copy and give my honest review.
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  • Sarah-Hope
    January 1, 1970
    Because of, you know, life, I had to put Beheld down several times while I was reading and then return a few days or a week later. With many books, this would lessen the enjoyment, but with Beheld the effect was the opposite. Beheld stayed with me through each of those breaks. I kept turning characters and events over in my head, considering what I knew about the historical period (it's set in Plymouth Colony) and Nesbit's thoughtful, multi-angled examination of it.Nesbit is the author of Wives Because of, you know, life, I had to put Beheld down several times while I was reading and then return a few days or a week later. With many books, this would lessen the enjoyment, but with Beheld the effect was the opposite. Beheld stayed with me through each of those breaks. I kept turning characters and events over in my head, considering what I knew about the historical period (it's set in Plymouth Colony) and Nesbit's thoughtful, multi-angled examination of it.Nesbit is the author of Wives of Los Alamos, in which the narrator is a collective "we" made up of women whose husbands are working at Los Alamos while the atomic bomb is being invented. This time around, Nesbit explores the first recorded murder in Plymouth Colony, and does so through multiple narrators—various colonists, Dorothy Bradford (who drowned in the harbor where pilgrims were about to disembark and enter the "new world"), and Nature herself. The relationships among these characters are complex, so Nesbit isn't just telling us a single story from multiple perspectives. Instead, we come to understand the complicated tapestry holding all these lives together in a variety of ways in the vulnerable, tension-riddled colony. One key source of tension in Plymouth is the different status and faiths of the various colonists. In school, Plymouth is depicted as homogenous: a group with a shared religion and values committed to a single cause. In fact, the colony was founded not just by Puritans, but also by a number of individuals of other Christian demominations who came as indentured servants and were promised "membership" in the colony after they'd served their seven years' indenture. Tensions roil below the surface between the Puritans who see themselves as the "real" colonists and the formerly indentured who feel marginalized and ill-treated.This mix of lives and tension makes for fascinating reading. Beheld is a book you'll want to read—and share with friends so you can mull over its many aspects together.I received a free electronic review copy of this book via NetGalley and the publisher. The opinions are my own.
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  • Annette
    January 1, 1970
    This story sheds light on struggles of the first pilgrims, who werent just Puritans. And not the struggles pertaining to their survival, but the struggles within their community non-Puritans living with Puritans. Plymouth is the first colony in New England, where a group of Puritans and non-Puritans arrive from England making it their new home in 1620.Now, 10 years later, it seems that a friction between religious Puritans and not so religious Anglicans as they are seen in the eyes of Puritans This story sheds light on struggles of the first pilgrims, who weren’t just Puritans. And not the struggles pertaining to their survival, but the struggles within their community – non-Puritans living with Puritans. Plymouth is the first colony in New England, where a group of Puritans and non-Puritans arrive from England making it their new home in 1620.Now, 10 years later, it seems that a friction between religious Puritans and not so religious Anglicans – as they are seen in the eyes of Puritans – wasn’t left in England, but rather transported to New England.As divided as they already are, a murder in the colony separates them even more.John Billington despises godly Puritans, calling them hypocrites as they call the Indians idle. But it was the Indians who helped Puritans to survive the first years on unknown sandy soil. He is a commoner who has been treated with deference from the moment he stepped from the Mayflower ship. Puritans who see God everywhere, treat another man as he is worth something less. How he hates those hypocrites. He complains to investors about ill-treatment, which puts even a bigger friction between him and the governor, William Bradford.Alice Bradford, governor’s wife, says “To be a successful colony, to pay off our debts, to be free of England, we needed a good reputation.” And John Billington certainly isn’t bringing them the much needed good reputation.Eleanor Billington says “So when those hypocrites looked their cherubic faces my way and claimed themselves to be the saints and I, a stranger to God? Ho, ho, I said to them. They were as flimsy in mind and spirit as saplings.” Newcomen is Billingtons’ new neighbor, whose acreage seems to be overlapping with Billingtons’. A conflict begins. What an incredible cast of characters. Enjoyed their versions of the story from the moment they opened their mouths. But Eleanor just tops them all with her garlicked breath, “I preferred my breath to be nice and garlicked, keeping away the illnesses those dour ones kept giving us.” And if you asked her who the governor of New Plymouth was? She’d tell you Captain Shrimp. “I put on my proper voice for the occasion of insulting him.” Loved her sharp tongue. The story presents interesting details of how colony functioned, for example, how land was distributed and in some situations how reconsiderations needed to be made – meant only for certain people. How trading with Indians needed approval from the Puritan leaders. And “Who traded with the Indians? Those who did the approving.”The story also grippingly reveals the missions of Mayflower and Speedwell. The latter failing to even leave the port.Originally written story, with vividly portrayed characters, takes a reader on an eye opening journey. Journey of the Mayflower travelers, who weren’t strictly Puritans – looking for religious freedom. But people from different backgrounds coming to the new colony for different reasons – “indentured servants who signed up out of various necessities, craftsmen hired to assist in the physical creation of the colony, adventurers looking for economic gain…”Source: ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Jessica Woodbury
    January 1, 1970
    I generally say that I do not care much for Historical Fiction. And yet, going through what I've read recently, there is an awful lot of Historical Fiction in it. I am coming to realize that it can be one of my favorite genres if it has one primary concern: to present a fuller picture of history. If your novel is just there to play in a different era, it does not pique my interest. But if your book wants to reexamine how we consider a time and place, the stories that are not included in our I generally say that I do not care much for Historical Fiction. And yet, going through what I've read recently, there is an awful lot of Historical Fiction in it. I am coming to realize that it can be one of my favorite genres if it has one primary concern: to present a fuller picture of history. If your novel is just there to play in a different era, it does not pique my interest. But if your book wants to reexamine how we consider a time and place, the stories that are not included in our popular narratives, and do more than say "it was a different time," then I am all in.BEHELD is one of these books. It is about the Plymouth colony, as big a part of the American narrative as any in history. When you grow up in the United States you learn about the pilgrims and the puritans and religious freedom. Sometimes you get a little bit about indentured servitude or relations between the settlers and the indigenous people whose lands they took. (Though I have yet to see a textbook that calls it stealing.) You also will not hear much at all about women, though they were just as much a part of building the colonies as men. Nesbit notes at the end of the book that she started thinking about this story when reading the narratives of the time and wondering where all the women were.Thus our primary narrators here are Alice Bradford, wife of the governor, and Eleanor Billington, wife of an indentured man who is not a puritan. We sometimes follow men as well, but it's the women who have the first person narratives here, men only ever get third person. There is tension in the colony. Factions are starting to form. There are investors to repay. More people are necessary for the colony's survival, but more people mean less puritans, making their governance more difficult. The husbands of Alice and Eleanor hate each other and it's clear from the first page that something is about to go very badly. Alice gets more of our time, as she is responsible not only for her own story but also for the story of her dear friend who was also the governor's first wife. Her story of coming to Plymouth is not the one you are used to hearing, it is not all about heroes and religion. It is about pain and loss and misery and struggle. It is a shame we don't get more time with Eleanor, who is smart and loyal and coarse and whose voice is even less common in these narratives than Alice's. This is a historical crime novel at its heart, we know a crime is coming, we have an idea of who will be involved, but we have to wait to see what will happen and what will follow. The prose in this time period can be a little hard, but the suspense kept me turning pages so quickly I read this in just a day and enjoyed it very much.
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  • Lori
    January 1, 1970
    Nesbit imagines life in the Plymouth Colony in this fictionalized account providing a back story and after story to its first murder. The author writes in the vernacular of the day, creating a piece which helps the reader become absorbed in 17th century life. Much of the story's narration comes from the wife of the convicted murderer. Her differences with Bradford and Standish at times make the reader question her reliability as a narrator and at times create questions of the integrity of the Nesbit imagines life in the Plymouth Colony in this fictionalized account providing a back story and after story to its first murder. The author writes in the vernacular of the day, creating a piece which helps the reader become absorbed in 17th century life. Much of the story's narration comes from the wife of the convicted murderer. Her differences with Bradford and Standish at times make the reader question her reliability as a narrator and at times create questions of the integrity of the colonial leaders. The book, lacking an action-driven plot, requires the reader to savor the characters and atmosphere created by the author. As someone who loves colonial American history, I enjoyed this book; however, it may not be a book for everyone. I received an advance review copy from Bloomsbury, the publisher. While an honest review was encouraged, it was not required.
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  • Racheal
    January 1, 1970
    The fastest way to get me interested in a historical story is to say that it's about a well-known topic from the perspective of people who have largely been written out of the history books.In this case the story of the Pilgrims is told through the perspective of the women and the Anglican former indentured servants ten years after the Mayflower landed in Plymouth, and it focuses on the time leading up to the community's first murder. The writing and ideas really hooked me and kept me engaged The fastest way to get me interested in a historical story is to say that it's about a well-known topic from the perspective of people who have largely been written out of the history books.In this case the story of the Pilgrims is told through the perspective of the women and the Anglican former indentured servants ten years after the Mayflower landed in Plymouth, and it focuses on the time leading up to the community's first murder. The writing and ideas really hooked me and kept me engaged throughout, which is really saying something since I've struggled to get into any of the books I've picked up over the last couple of weeks. My one criticism might be that the author uses aphorisms a little too liberally, but that's only a minor quibble.Overall it was pretty fascinating to see this story from the vastly different perspectives of the ruling Puritans and the former servants who feel wronged and hemmed in by their self righteous piety. You really get a strong sense of each side's bitterness, resentment, hypocrisy, and self centeredness. I was on guard as I read to see how Indigenous folks would be portrayed, but the scope of the book is very narrow and it doesn't look heavily at the Europeans' interactions with them. I do think that this aspect of the book was done pretty well, though, particularly because the Pilgrims were definitely not painted in a positive light (the whole time I was just mentally going "fuuuuuuuuck the Puritans").Another thing that I appreciated was how the characters feel very of their time/place, but at the same time still feel somehow very relatable, like on an a basic human nature sort of level. For example:"We were trying to be in God's good favor, and whatever was fashionable was lowly and earthly. Beauty was a vanity, an earthly vanity, which is why the royalty spent their time upon it. That was not us, I kept telling myself, but privately I believed it was far easier to be less vain when you were beautiful"."He spoke loud enough for his wife to register the grumbling, but not loud enough to elevate his annoyance into an argument, as is common with husbands."Overall I really found this to be fascinating and super readable. Would recommend to anyone who would like to read things from this time period without having an absolute aneurysm over racist/sexist/classiest/xenophobic shit (I mean it's there, of course, but it's not held up as good or natural in any way).
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  • Karen Kay
    January 1, 1970
    I received this from Netgalley.com for a review. "Beheld is about a murder and a trial, and the motivations-personal and political-that cause people to act in unsavory ways. It is also an intimate portrait of love, motherhood, and friendship that asks: Whose stories get told over time, who gets believed-and subsequently, who gets punished? "Focusing on the struggles of Plymouth, and more specifically its women, it is not the land its residents had imagined.3.25☆
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  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    I was very hopeful for this book given its subject matter. I was encouraged by the writing early on, such as:We were divided, as we had been from the beginninghalf of the colonists were congregants striving to live as God intended. And the other half? Well, they were why we took care to mend the fences.However as the book unfolds too many of the characters lack true complexity. In addition, you know from the beginning whats going to happen, and when it does, everything is exactly as youd expect. I was very hopeful for this book given its subject matter. I was encouraged by the writing early on, such as:“We were divided, as we had been from the beginning—half of the colonists were congregants striving to live as God intended. And the other half? Well, they were why we took care to mend the fences.”However as the book unfolds too many of the characters lack true complexity. In addition, you know from the beginning what’s going to happen, and when it does, everything is exactly as you’d expect. There’s just not enough here to leave me feeling anything strongly, and to me, that’s a sadly missed opportunity.
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  • Christina
    January 1, 1970
    I was very excited to receive an advance copy of Beheld. I loved the idea of learning more about Plymouth and possibly getting a different perspective and not just what you see in the school curriculum. This book came across as very well researched and I loved the perspective of the two vastly different women. I was also intrigued by why people left and how those escaping religious persecution treated those with different religions in their new place they traveled to. I thought the book did a I was very excited to receive an advance copy of Beheld. I loved the idea of learning more about Plymouth and possibly getting a different perspective and not just what you see in the school curriculum. This book came across as very well researched and I loved the perspective of the two vastly different women. I was also intrigued by why people left and how those escaping religious persecution treated those with different religions in their new place they traveled to. I thought the book did a great job at showing that at least with the other English settlers. Not so much with the native Americans but that relationship was not part of the main theme. I do recommend!
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  • Andria Sedig
    January 1, 1970
    Personally, this book was a dud for me. I was really excited about a historical murder mystery type book, as the description alluded too. Unfortunately, the first 3rd of the book was long, drawn out, and not much happened. I know that we were building character background, but I felt like 2-3 things happened in 35% of the book. However, the writing of the book and the historical setting was well done. If you are someone who enjoys a slower paced book, this book would most likely be an enjoyable Personally, this book was a dud for me. I was really excited about a historical murder mystery type book, as the description alluded too. Unfortunately, the first 3rd of the book was long, drawn out, and not much happened. I know that we were building character background, but I felt like 2-3 things happened in 35% of the book. However, the writing of the book and the historical setting was well done. If you are someone who enjoys a slower paced book, this book would most likely be an enjoyable read!
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  • Mitch Karunaratne
    January 1, 1970
    Plymouth 1630 - the lies, hypocrisies, dangers, dreams and aspirations of a group of settlers as seen through the eyes of the women of the community. Fashioned on real historical events, Nesbit has filled in the gaps where the oft forgotten women's voices should exist. I loved the settings thought the different factions were drawn well and the emerging townscape vivid. I'd of liked more agency on the part of the women - they commentate from the sidelines and their own connective power isn't Plymouth 1630 - the lies, hypocrisies, dangers, dreams and aspirations of a group of settlers as seen through the eyes of the women of the community. Fashioned on real historical events, Nesbit has filled in the gaps where the oft forgotten women's voices should exist. I loved the settings thought the different factions were drawn well and the emerging townscape vivid. I'd of liked more agency on the part of the women - they commentate from the sidelines and their own connective power isn't central.
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  • Christy
    January 1, 1970
    ** I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. **cw: graphic rapethis was a solid read, and i was very interested in the puritan lifestyle. it's told from different viewpoints (with a majority of them being from the governor's wife alice) and i feel like the author did a good job of making the voices distinct. my only real gripe w this novel is the graphic random rape scene. (view spoiler)[it's plopped into the middle of the book, involving characters we do not know and ** I received this ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. **cw: graphic rapethis was a solid read, and i was very interested in the puritan lifestyle. it's told from different viewpoints (with a majority of them being from the governor's wife alice) and i feel like the author did a good job of making the voices distinct. my only real gripe w this novel is the graphic random rape scene. (view spoiler)[it's plopped into the middle of the book, involving characters we do not know and never see again. and i just do not understand the point of it? it's between a 13 year old indentured servant and her master's adult brother. is it to show how dangerous life was for women back then? because i expect the readers already know that. is it to mirror what happens to eleanor late in the novel? idk. if someone can explain it, that'd be great. reading those scenes may not bother some readers but it very much bothers me and i'm sure many others. i respect the author's goal to give a voice to the voiceless (and an indentured servant girl in the 1600s would certainly fit that) but it did affect my enjoyment. honestly i could see value in it if it felt necessary to the plot but it felt shoehorned in. (hide spoiler)]but fair is fair, and i did enjoy the rest of the novel. i find that time period fascinating. i don’t know that i could recommend it to mystery or suspense readers but historical fiction readers might enjoy it quite a bit.
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  • Marika
    January 1, 1970
    For too long the history of the Plymouth colony and its inhabitants were only told through the male narrative but that is about to change. Beheld the new novel by TaraShea Nesbit (author of the Wives of Los Alamos) finally gives voice to the women of the colony as she retells a story of the first murder to take place in the colony. Its 10 years after the Mayflower landed and the new world is not the utopia of religious freedom that many sought after. In fact, there is a dark side to the colony. For too long the history of the Plymouth colony and its inhabitants were only told through the male narrative but that is about to change. “Beheld” the new novel by TaraShea Nesbit (author of the Wives of Los Alamos) finally gives voice to the women of the colony as she retells a story of the first murder to take place in the colony. Its 10 years after the Mayflower landed and the new world is not the utopia of religious freedom that many sought after. In fact, there is a dark side to the colony. Nesbit peels back the façade of what readers think that they know about the colony and presents the dark hearts of men and women in this fascinating work of historical fiction. This book will get much attention as 2020 is the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower.* I read an advance copy and was not compensated.
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  • Andrea Larson
    January 1, 1970
    All I really remember about the Pilgrims is what I learned in elementary school: the white-centric, warm and fuzzy stories about how they wanted religious freedom, they came over on the Mayflower, they celebrated the first Thanksgiving. I've never considered what it really must have been like to be one of those early settlers. In Beheld, TaraShea Nesbit presents a thoughtful, well-researched view of life in Plymouth Colony that debunks those myths we were taught as kids.Nesbit tells her story All I really remember about the Pilgrims is what I learned in elementary school: the white-centric, warm and fuzzy stories about how they wanted religious freedom, they came over on the Mayflower, they celebrated the first Thanksgiving. I've never considered what it really must have been like to be one of those early settlers. In Beheld, TaraShea Nesbit presents a thoughtful, well-researched view of life in Plymouth Colony that debunks those myths we were taught as kids.Nesbit tells her story from the points of view of several settlers: Alice Bradford, wife of the colony's governor; Eleanor and John Billington, indentured servants who came over on the Mayflower and worked for seven years to earn their freedom; and John Newcomen, a recent arrival to Plymouth. We learn of practical matters facing the settlers: fallow land and insufficient harvests; debts owed to investors in England; feeding and housing all the new arrivals; dealing with the Native Americans surrounding them (who, we learn, were helpful and generous to the colonists). There was social conflict too, for the Anglican indentured servants resented the Puritans, whom they regarded as classist, greedy hypocrites. This resentment boils over when a new arrival comes to town to claim his land and a murder takes place.What I loved about this book was the authenticity of the voices. The anger and bitterness of the indentured servants jumps off the page through Eleanor. Alice Bradford's very different story shows us a woman overwhelmed by this new land, resigned to subservience to her husband, and grieving her best friend Dorothy, who died on the Mayflower shortly after it arrived. While the history books tell us the men's version of what happened, hearing these women puts color and depth into the stories. Engrossing, surprising, and melancholy, this is a terrific historical read. Great for book clubs.
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  • Krista
    January 1, 1970
    Rating: 4 starsAs the book blurb correctly states, Beheld is about a murder and a trial; but it's also about the motivations--personal and political--that cause people to act in unsavory ways.This work of historical fiction caught my attention because I really knew so little about the Puritan settlement of the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts. The Puritans arrived in Plymouth in 1620. The book opens on the colony ten years after the first settlers arrival. We learn the backstories of some of Rating: 4 starsAs the book blurb correctly states, “Beheld is about a murder and a trial; but it's also about the motivations--personal and political--that cause people to act in unsavory ways.”This work of historical fiction caught my attention because I really knew so little about the Puritan settlement of the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts. The Puritans arrived in Plymouth in 1620. The book opens on the colony ten years after the first settlers’ arrival. We learn the backstories of some of founding settlers, and see how the colony functions after ten years. The book cycles through multiple narrator's points of view. Among others, we hear from Alice, the wife of the governor, William Bradford, and Eleanor Billington who came to the colony with her husband as an indentured servant. We soon learn that the colony that was set up with hopes of a better community than what they left in Europe has descended to same levels of intolerance. It is just that the intolerance is directed towards a different segment of their population. This was an interesting portrait of the early days of a white settlement in the ‘New World’. It showed how brutal the time was in terms of the rights of all sorts of people, including women, servants, people not following the accepted religion, and Native Americans. Having two women narrators enhanced the story for me. The book contained some graphic violence that was hard to read about, however it was historically accurate for the era. Reading this book expanded my knowledge of the early settlement experience. It made me very grateful that I was born into this time not that one. The book held my attention, and at the end, I was happy to have read it. I would recommend this to readers who enjoy Historical Fiction, or would like to learn more about the early European settlement years in what would become the United States of America.‘Thank-You’ to NetGalley; the publisher, Bloomsbury USA; and the author, TaraShea Nesbit, for providing a free e-ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
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  • LoneStarWords Deb Coco
    January 1, 1970
    I have to say that my initial interest in this book stemmed from growing in Massachusetts. Every year during elementary school one field trip was always dedicated to Plymouth Plantation, so I am always game for anything written about the colonies and early America. Beheld is all those things-- familiar setting and stories I remember from school. However, through the magic of fiction, we are given the "inside scoop" on some of the founders we've come to know so well, (Standish, Winthrop, I have to say that my initial interest in this book stemmed from growing in Massachusetts. Every year during elementary school one field trip was always dedicated to Plymouth Plantation, so I am always game for anything written about the colonies and early America. Beheld is all those things-- familiar setting and stories I remember from school. However, through the magic of fiction, we are given the "inside scoop" on some of the founders we've come to know so well, (Standish, Winthrop, Bradford) and Nesbit gives us the untold story of the women behind many of these men. The novel presents an often unflattering view of the historical figures we were taught about in school and adds personal stories to the people of the past, burdening them with the same complexities that marriage, motherhood, and jealousy cause. I've always been fascinated by the hypocrisy behind these people who left England in search of freedoms they felt they were denied, that they then turned around and recreated almost the same society they fled. I found Beheld to be very readable (short chapters each dedicated to one character's POV). The character development is strong as is the story of plantation's first murder and trial as viewed by the people who bore witness to it.
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  • Travis
    January 1, 1970
    History is written by victors, or, maybe more accurately, white men. TaraShea Nesbit's Beheld deftly imagines the missing perspective of the women of the Plymouth colony. I imagine that there were many women like Eleanor Billington, whose portion of the narrative fills the book with bitterness at the lies that brought them to America, anger at the way her family is treated, and joy in the mundane of every day life. Alice Bradford's portion of the narrative captures the difficulty of being the History is written by victors, or, maybe more accurately, white men. TaraShea Nesbit's Beheld deftly imagines the missing perspective of the women of the Plymouth colony. I imagine that there were many women like Eleanor Billington, whose portion of the narrative fills the book with bitterness at the lies that brought them to America, anger at the way her family is treated, and joy in the mundane of every day life. Alice Bradford's portion of the narrative captures the difficulty of being the governor's second wife, living in the murky shadow of her dead childhood friend. Even the men's voices we hear, especially John Billington, breath an imagined life into history that's really only ever had one voice.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    I received a librarian ARC from a Bloomsbury giveaway. All opinions are my own!I enjoyed the idea of the book and the POV. There were times I felt deja vu with some specific sentences: the specific way the characters talked about the corn, squash, and beans for example. The murder didnt actually occur until 2/3 through the book and then the trial was barely a chapter. Overall an interesting read, but I wouldnt necessarily recommend it to anyone unless they specifically want historical fiction I received a librarian ARC from a Bloomsbury giveaway. All opinions are my own!I enjoyed the idea of the book and the POV. There were times I felt deja vu with some specific sentences: the specific way the characters talked about the corn, squash, and beans for example. The murder didn’t actually occur until 2/3 through the book and then the trial was barely a chapter. Overall an interesting read, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to anyone unless they specifically want historical fiction about the pilgrims.
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  • Cassie Gutman (happybooklovers)
    January 1, 1970
    I was genuinely hoping to love this book, and the last quarter is the reason I bumped my rating up. I didnt feel like I got a good sense of the characters and their inner thoughts until the very end. The first three quarters felt like a lot of buildup before the actual book got started, which would have been okay if the characters were experiencing growth/change/thoughts. It was still incredibly interesting written in the style of the time and a new spin on womens roles I hadnt read previously, I was genuinely hoping to love this book, and the last quarter is the reason I bumped my rating up. I didn’t feel like I got a good sense of the characters and their inner thoughts until the very end. The first three quarters felt like a lot of buildup before the actual book got started, which would have been okay if the characters were experiencing growth/change/thoughts. It was still incredibly interesting written in the style of the time and a new spin on women’s roles I hadn’t read previously, but overall, it was an okay book.
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  • R
    January 1, 1970
    This book was not for me, I tried countless time to pick it up but everyone I set it back down not liking it enjoying
  • Cyndi
    January 1, 1970
    The author puts a whole new spin on the story of the Puritan settlers in Plymouth, MA. Backstabbing, abuse and murder are unsavory aspects of the colony and neighbors are anything but how they appear on the surface.The best thing about this was the very original plot line. Ive never read any type of suspense that is set during the time of the pilgrims and I found it quite interesting and refreshing. The authors take on this point in history is fascinating. The writing is excellent and the pace The author puts a whole new spin on the story of the Puritan settlers in Plymouth, MA. Backstabbing, abuse and murder are unsavory aspects of the colony and neighbors are anything but how they appear on the surface.The best thing about this was the very original plot line. I’ve never read any type of suspense that is set during the time of the pilgrims and I found it quite interesting and refreshing. The author’s take on this point in history is fascinating. The writing is excellent and the pace fast moving. An overall fresh, appealing read.Many thanks to Netgalley, Bloomsbury Publishing and TaraShea Nesbit for my complimentary e-copy ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
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  • Bookreporter.com Historical Fiction
    January 1, 1970
    Recently, writers are turning to increasingly creative modes of addressing the silences, gaping voids and smaller concealments that plague our historical record. Historical fiction, in its unconstrained ability to imagine and fill these gaps, has emerged as a critical part of the cross-disciplinary project of historical resuscitation and repair.In her new novel, BEHELD, author TaraShea Nesbit embarks on a project in this mode of recuperative historical fabrication. Using whispers left behind by Recently, writers are turning to increasingly creative modes of addressing the silences, gaping voids and smaller concealments that plague our historical record. Historical fiction, in its unconstrained ability to imagine and fill these gaps, has emerged as a critical part of the cross-disciplinary project of historical resuscitation and repair.In her new novel, BEHELD, author TaraShea Nesbit embarks on a project in this mode of recuperative historical fabrication. Using whispers left behind by the archive as impetus for creative speculation, she weaves together the voices, both remembered and imagined, of two actual historical characters to tell the story of the first murder in Plymouth, Massachusetts.Drawn to “the omission of the lives of women in accounts from the seventeenth century,” Nesbit reframes the mythic story of the Puritans from the perspectives of two differently situated, but nevertheless strikingly similar, women: Alice Bradford, the second wife of Plymouth’s Governor William Bradford, and Eleanor Billington, a former indentured servant and wife of the town rabble-rouser. Through a delicate reimagining of the lives of these individuals, whose subjectivities have been erased by the annals of history, Nesbit reconstitutes the mythological tale of America’s earliest settlers, creating an affecting story that exposes the hypocrisy and violence of this renowned originary settlement.The tale of the Puritans and their journey to find religious freedom in the new world is often taught to school children as an idealized story of conviction and integrity, but Nesbit renders a different Plymouth. BEHELD opens 10 years after the colonists have first settled in Massachusetts. The land is barren, and the settlers suffer tremendous debt. Above all, the community faces burgeoning friction between the Puritans and the Anglican indentured servants, who both accompanied and enabled the colonizers’ journey. When a new settler arrives to claim his plot of land, the tensions reach a fever pitch and a shocking murder is committed.Although the ostensible core of the novel’s plot is this act of violence and the subsequent trial, Nesbit is less intent on building a compelling mystery than she is in lyrically exposing the hypocrisy of the Puritans’ superiority and their cruelty masquerading as justice. The book is rife with scenes of grim violence that is posited by the Puritans as righteous and moral: Eleanor Billington is stripped naked and whipped through the town; a Native American’s bloody head is proudly displayed on a pole; a young woman is raped by her owner's brother and later killed when she is found to be with child.Although Nesbit shows violence endemic throughout the colony, she is most interested in imagining the subjectivities of Plymouth’s women, who are subject to both institutional cruelty and the gendered hazards of everyday life. Protagonists Alice and Eleanor structurally lead exceedingly different lives --- the former is imbued with a degree of power allocated to her by her husband’s status, and the latter is the object of gleeful scorn by the townspeople. Yet both are hopelessly dependent upon, and violated by, their husbands. Alice is beaten when she oversteps, and Eleanor, though in a surprisingly equitable sexual partnership with her husband, is ultimately betrayed by him and brutally punished for it. In stilted and formal language, written in a somewhat successful emulation of the 17th-century vernacular, Nesbit richly renders these female characters’ subjectivities as they endure, and occasionally transgress, the stringent bounds of their society.In BEHELD, Nesbit vividly resuscitates the female experience of Plymouth --- reanimating voices lost in traditional historical accounts while simultaneously showing how these voices were questioned, critiqued, repudiated and ultimately silenced. But she doesn’t accept that they have been truly silenced. They are there if you look for them, in the whispers and traces left by the historical archive, waiting for a little bit of imagination to do its work.Reviewed by Tanya Bush
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  • Dana
    January 1, 1970
    The premise will no doubt attract many fans of historical fans. This is a historical setting and time that isn't widely explored in literature. The story of the first murder in the Plymouth colony is told from the aspect of two women who did not have public voices, nor did they leave much of a historical record behind. Alice Bradford, the respected wife of the Plymouth Governor, and Eleanor Billington, a former indentured servant and wife of the village troublemaker, come from very different The premise will no doubt attract many fans of historical fans. This is a historical setting and time that isn't widely explored in literature. The story of the first murder in the Plymouth colony is told from the aspect of two women who did not have public voices, nor did they leave much of a historical record behind. Alice Bradford, the respected wife of the Plymouth Governor, and Eleanor Billington, a former indentured servant and wife of the village troublemaker, come from very different backgrounds and belong in different social classes. But their similarities are striking to the reader, as is the fact that their fates are hopelessly dependent on those of their husbands. The story of the murder is slowly unraveled as the narrative switches back and forth between the two women's perspectives. I found many aspects of the women's narration to be anachronistic, but upon further reflection I believe Nesbit chose to focus less on historical accuracy and more on portraying this story through a modern day, feminist lens. Readers who enjoy immersing themselves in historical detail might do well to look elsewhere. Beheld is interesting and well-written. My low rating is based on the fact that I failed to develop any kind of connection to either of the women. While I sympathized with the hardships they endured and the struggles they faced in their new home in an unknown land, they felt just a little too mired in present-day sensibilities for my taste. I was also disappointed in the author's note, which I felt lacked sufficient information on her research and the facts she used as a basis for her fictional portrayals of real people. I read an advanced copy, so perhaps more information will be added to the final version before publication.Thank you to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    I had to read this book because it's family history. Yes, I'm quite proud to be descended from the first white man to be put to death in Plymouth! My great-great-great-great grandfather married Elizabeth Welch. Her great-great-great grandfather was Francis Billington, the son of John Billington--the rabble-rouser this novel is based on. I love how the author used factual sources, but then used her imagination to guess WHY the Billington family was so hated by the hypocritical Puritans. It does I had to read this book because it's family history. Yes, I'm quite proud to be descended from the first white man to be put to death in Plymouth! My great-great-great-great grandfather married Elizabeth Welch. Her great-great-great grandfather was Francis Billington, the son of John Billington--the rabble-rouser this novel is based on. I love how the author used factual sources, but then used her imagination to guess WHY the Billington family was so hated by the hypocritical Puritans. It does make sense that if they didn't go to church in a religious colony that there would be problems. And if he broke the law by trading with the Wampanoag when he wasn't allowed to. It's telling how all the laws were created to help those in power and keep those in lower classes from rising--just like in England. The novel is told through the point-of-view of many characters--John Billington, Alice Bradford (the governor's wife), Eleanor Billington (John's wife) and Newcomen (the man Billington kills). But, unfortunately, the novel just doesn't read very well. Scenes and paragraphs are rather choppy and don't flow easily, which is a shame because I find this time period fascinating. I did read the advance reader's copy, so some of this may be improved before printing, but there are times when I felt like I was reading primary source documents instead of a novel. Language is tough, too, because we know they spoke English differently then. With the different POVs, I felt like I skimmed the surface of the characters, but I think I would have liked a deeper dive into one of the characters, like Alice or Eleanor instead. And perhaps had the story been told as a reflection (and almost a confession), I would have been more emotionally involved. I didn't feel anything for the characters as I read this.
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  • Kyra Johnson
    January 1, 1970
    BEHELD is a fascinating twist on the whitewashed story most of us have been taught in school. Its about how the Plymouth colony came to be and describes the events leading up to the colonys first murder. The story is told through multiple voices but the most refreshing perspectives are from two contrasting women who were largely written out of history during that time. Alice, the privileged governors wife and a disgruntled, indentured servant, Eleanor.The story takes place 10 years after the BEHELD is a fascinating twist on the whitewashed story most of us have been taught in school. It’s about how the Plymouth colony came to be and describes the events leading up to the colony’s first murder. The story is told through multiple voices but the most refreshing perspectives are from two contrasting women who were largely written out of history during that time. Alice, the privileged governor’s wife and a disgruntled, indentured servant, Eleanor.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣The story takes place 10 years after the Mayflower dropped anchor and arrived on the rocky, unfamiliar terrain of Patuxet, later known as Plymouth. The land was inhabited by the Indigenous people of the Northeast Woodlands who were imagined to be savages but turned out to be peaceful people. The Native Americans showed the colonists how to work the land and grow crops. Originally founded by people seeking religious freedom, Plymouth became occupied by fanatical puritans who controlled how the residents lived, traded and worshipped. ⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣Nesbit offers a fresh perspective on the Plymouth colony, the flawed colonists and their conflicting desires and motivations. She gives a voice to the lesser known women of the colony. The “godly” puritans are portrayed as hot-tempered and power-hungry. Tensions rise between the puritans and the mistreated indentured servants who worked for years to earn their freedom. The colony teeters on the edge of chaos.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣BEHELD is a well-researched history lesson. It’s an intriguing exploration of motherhood, friendship, love, faith, politics and class. This immersive work of historical fiction will be released on 3/17. I highly recommend BEHELD for anyone interested in the Plymouth colony. ⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣Thank you for the gifted book, Bloomsbury Publishing!
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  • Kathleen
    January 1, 1970
    DNF @ 68%. This book seems to be very well researched and it's very well written. The settler's vernacular is written in a way that you are well aware of the time period but you never stumble over any awkward diction. It's also an interesting view point of those times as it is mostly told from the female POV. It was so much fun to listen to their true thoughts that aren't necessarily in keeping with what we believe was the demeanor of their faith. And the character Eleanor - whew - was she DNF @ 68%. This book seems to be very well researched and it's very well written. The settler's vernacular is written in a way that you are well aware of the time period but you never stumble over any awkward diction. It's also an interesting view point of those times as it is mostly told from the female POV. It was so much fun to listen to their true thoughts that aren't necessarily in keeping with what we believe was the demeanor of their faith. And the character Eleanor - whew - was she snarky, in the best possible way that I wanted to be her friend :) I was also so struck with the fact that the settlers braved the new world to escape religious persecution but then got here and persecuted those they saw as 'other' in the exact same way. Religion certainly can be a double-edged sword and that's made very clear in this book. So, after all this praise, why my DNF? I began reading and was immediately drawn into the characters and the story but from about 30% to almost 70% the plot slowed to an almost standstill and I was struggling to keep reading. This is a story about the first murder in Plymouth and that didn't happen until 68% and then it was what had expected to happen all along. It was just too slow to keep my interest. But I know there are tons of readers who enjoy that slow, deep dive into characters and to whom the plot is secondary - and I think you will love this book. It's smart and edgy and an incredibly interesting look at the founders that gives you an entirely new female perspective. Much thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me to read an advanced copy. My opinions are entirely my own.
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  • Jen Estevez
    January 1, 1970
    I won this ARC from Bloomsbury Publishing on Goodreads. I am so grateful for a chance to read read this historical fiction novel prior to release. This is my honest review.Beheld, a novel by TaraShea Nesbit, takes place in New Plymouth, an North American colony in the early sixteen hundreds. The novel is from multiple POV, including, Alice Bradford, Governors wife of New Plymouth, Eleanor and John Bradford, ex-servants, and Newcomen (a new comer). The story is primarily through Alice POV, which I won this ARC from Bloomsbury Publishing on Goodreads. I am so grateful for a chance to read read this historical fiction novel prior to release. This is my honest review.Beheld, a novel by TaraShea Nesbit, takes place in New Plymouth, an North American colony in the early sixteen hundreds. The novel is from multiple POV, including, Alice Bradford, Governor’s wife of New Plymouth, Eleanor and John Bradford, ex-servants, and Newcomen (a new comer). The story is primarily through Alice POV, which we learn of the Puritan’s opinion of the non Puritan colonist and prior servants; of her love, loss and regret for her beloved childhood friend, Dorothy; and her divided support for her husband as leader of the colony. Through Eleanor and John’s POV we learn of the hypocrisy and inequality of the Puritan leaders.There is a lot going on in this novel, such as current events, some early history of the colony, and backstory of Alice, her husband, and her best friend Dorothy, who incidentally is Alice’s husband’s first wife. Being in Alice’s head so much limits the total picture of colony life as a whole. There were also a few random chapters that just didn’t fit in. I learned some of colony life, but would have loved to have learned so much more. There was mention of nearby towns (a days travel), and Indians that helps initially, but whom they did not trade with. The big event that the novel builds to didn’t seem so big after all. Beyond the big events the novel seemed to dwindle.Although I enjoyed reading about colony life and the women of the colony, I am left with wanting more. Perhaps less pages in Alice head, as well as John or Newcomen’s, and more showing, more depth. I ultimately rate Beheld 3.5 stars.
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