Title: The Mayflower Bride
Author: Kimberley Woodhouse
Series: Daughters of the Mayflower #1
Genre: Christian Historical fiction
Fleeing persecution for their religious beliefs, 16-year-old Mary Elizabeth Chapman along with her father and eight-year-old brother David, join their congregation aboard the Speedwell in hopes of prosperity and religious freedom. After having to return to port for repairs to the ship on more than one occasion, the passengers are eventually transferred to the Mayflower to complete their journey. William Lytton was orphaned as baby and raised until the age of nine by relatives who did not want him. Thrown to the streets, he survived on his own until a man named Paul took him under his wing at age 13 and treated him as a son, including teaching him of the LORD and of his trade as a carpenter. Knowing his time was near, Paul purchased a ticket for William’s passage to the new colony as well as an extra stake in some land for him to be able to prosper and start his own family. At first William isn’t receptive to hearing about the LORD and his love, and it isn’t until they are at sea that William truly discovers his need for the LORD in his life. The journey is a difficult one, with nearly all of the passengers falling ill, including many deaths. It is aboard the first ship that William and Mary Elizabeth are introduced. Mary Elizabeth’s best friend Dorothy teases her about her immediate interest in him, but over time their affections truly grow for each other. They work together (along with any of the few not ill at any given time), to care for the sick aboard the ship. I will not spoil any events, however I will share that the heartache is great and death touches nearly every family. In an attempt to stay true to historical accuracy, the author takes the reader deep into the heartache of sickness and death of loved ones. Once the ship makes it to land, they hope that all will be well, but they continue to face more heartache as they struggle to build homes for their families and feed their community. As William and Mary Elizabeth work hard to help build their new colony, is the love they’ve developed for each other enough to sustain them?
A lot of research and preparation went into the writing of this novel as the author shares in snippets both before and after the book. While the main characters are fictional, several of the characters were real people aboard the ship (and she even shares some interesting lineage about some of them at the end). While the book does fall under a romance category, it’s also full of history. Both Mary Elizabeth and William’s stories are shared including their own struggles and heartaches aside from that of romance. Life in 1620 aboard the Mayflower was certainly no walk-in-the-park, and the author did a wonderful job of sharing just how painful and difficult life could be for the early settlers. While sad in many parts, the settlers clung to their faith in the LORD to sustain them through the difficulties they faced. This was a very emotional yet powerful read, and one I would greatly encourage.
*I received a free copy of the book from the publisher for an honest review*
Age Appropriateness: Although this story falls under a romance, I would say this historical aspects to it take the leading role. The struggles the families go through, and the heartache with losing loved ones is a real presence throughout the book. There aren’t any sexual references other than “blushing” at one-another in each other’s presence. The only thing I could see that would affect age appropriateness for this one would be due to the emotional deaths that exist in the story. It’s something that kids are made aware of in school when they learn about the Mayflower, but reading a full novel about it may or may not be hard to deal with. Knowing individual limits, I don’t see content that would prevent a 10-12 year-old from reading if they desired– especially if they like history.