Where will her loyalty lead her?
Once accused of witchcraft Martha Spicer is now free from the shadow of the gallows and lives a safe and happy life with her husband, Jacob. But when Jacob heads north to accompany his master, he warns Martha to keep her healing gifts a secret, to keep herself safe, to be a good wife.
Martha loves Jacob but without him there to protect her, she soon comes under the suspicious eye of the wicked Steward Boult, who’s heard of her talent and forces her to attend to him. If she refuses, he promises to destroy the good life she has built for herself with Jacob.
Desperate and alone, Martha faces a terrible decision: stay and be beholden to Boult or journey north to find Jacob who is reported to have been killed.. The road ahead is filled with danger, but also the promise of a brighter future. And where her gifts once threatened to be her downfall, might they now be the very thing that sets Martha free…?
The brilliant follow-up to Eleanor Porter’s first novel of love, betrayal, superstition and fear in Elizabethan England. A story of female courage, ingenuity and determination.
I received copies of these books from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for honest reviews.
The Good Wife is the sequel to The Wheelwright’s Daughter but readable as a standalone. Martha is married to Jacob and happy. He is her world, but it starts to crumble when he follows his master north. Jacob is worried about leaving Martha, who attracts attention for her healing skills. She is intelligent and wise in natural healing but naive when facing the world’s evils. When Jacob doesn’t return, her world implodes. Forced to flee her long journey is one of danger and self-discovery. She matures with each encounter and every problem she faces.
The historical details make the journey atmospheric and immersive. The characters are vibrant, with intriguing relationship dynamics. I love the understanding she has with her horse. The evil she faces is difficult to read but necessary to the story. There are many poignant and tragic moments, but ultimately the journey is a positive experience for Martha.
Eleanor Porter has lectured at Universities in England and Hong Kong and her poetry and short fiction has been published in magazines. The Wheelwright’s Daughter was her first novel.
My Review of The Wheelwright’s Daugther – Eleanor Porter
This story is set in Elizabethan England in the late sixteenth century when religious persecution was rife and witchhunts common. Martha is a young woman raised by her grandmother and father. Educated, intelligent with independent ways that make the villagers’ distrustful of her. After her grandmother’s death, there is no one to protect Martha from her father’s drinking, and she is vulnerable to the dangerous, pious priest and the villagers’ superstitions.
Martha experiences coming of age in a dangerous world with little sympathetic support and much superstition. The story is claustrophobic and immersive, as the reader experiences the danger, superstitions and treachery of this historical period from Martha’s point of view.
Authentic, often unlikeable characters draw the reader into this story. Martha is easy to empathise with, and you want her to survive.