John Brown’s Women
John Brown’s Women reimagines the lives of an abolitionist family of John Brown. The family prizes actions over words, with these actions affecting three courageous women and the nation.
Pennsylvania, 1833. Mary Day accepts John Brown’s proposal of marriage. He is a widower with five children—a man twice her age—but Mary is a practical person, looking for certain qualities in a person and letting love find its way in later. His father was strongly anti-slavery and he taught his children to think likewise—another quality that appeals to Mary. Whatever has befallen the family over the years, including financial hardship and losing children to pestilence, they remain steadfast in their convictions, with their home a stop on what is now called the Underground Railroad.
Wealthy (married to John Brown Jr.) knows if her husband catches a fever, there is no way of changing his mind. He has just caught the Kansas fever, and Kansas is a place where you can find rich land and strike a blow for freedom, too. Brown men have one trait in common: restlessness. They follow the path where they can make the biggest impact for humanity. They don’t settle for what feels comfortable. In Kansas, they deal with the Border Ruffians. They organize protests while risking hanging for treason. Throughout those challenging times, the Brown women remain loyal to their men and supportive of their honorable cause.
Strong-willed Annie Brown follows her father and brothers to Maryland, and witnesses even a stronger will of men who all agreed that they couldn’t justify their contentment with so many sufferings. Thus, they all fight for the right cause.
The novel authentically creates the atmosphere of a revolutionary family, who dedicates their lives to a noble cause. It brings a family of men who at some point take drastic measure. When the father stands over the grave of his one son and sees the wrist scars on another, he realizes that there is no peaceful solution to ending slavery. Thus, he decides to eradicate slavery by whatever means necessary, which leads to another tragedy.
The story is portrayed through the eyes of three women. Women, who are understanding in their husbands’ cause. Many times, they are separated, not knowing if they see each other again. While they remain supportive and dedicated, they make their own contributions to the cause of human freedom.
Written with such evocative prose that a reader can feel mother’s grief after losing her children, and get emotional when John Brown’s coffin is laid down to ground, a loss of a great life can be felt greatly. Written with a narrative that is crisp and carries the story forward constantly, including the dialogue that matters and is sharp. In the process, leaving no doubt how believable the characters are and how close a reader can get to them, creating a superb transportation of going back in time and being right there and witnessing history in the making.