The Story of An 18th Century Woman from A Prominent New England Family Who Went from A Life of Privilege to The Gallows
Bathsheba Spooner was the daughter of Timothy Ruggles, a general in the French and Indian War, president of the Stamp Act Congress, Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, and a leading loyalist in Massachusetts during the Revolutionary War; the epitome of upper class.
Like her father, Bathsheba was smart, strong-willed, and a staunch British loyalist. Forced to marry a man she did not love, Bathsheba withstood her husband’s abuse for years until a young Continental soldier entered her life. But when this well-heeled mother of three small children discovered she was pregnant with the soldier’s child, her thoughts quickly turned to murder.
Based on a true story, the events that follow Bathsheba’s life, her decisions, and her ultimate demise will show readers that Bathsheba Spooner was, in fact, Unlike Any Other . . .
One of the reasons why historical fiction is my favourite genre is because often the characters are based on people who had actually lived during the era the book is set in. Unlike Any Other by Edward Londergan is a story based upon the life of Bathsheba Spooner. The novel tells the story of how she went from a promising young woman, with the world seemingly at her feet, to a woman who would do anything to escape her marriage.
Bathsheba is a character that knows her own mind, she starts this novel as a strong woman with an independent mind. Unfortunately, her father unwittingly placed a noose around her neck when he forced her to marry Joshua Spooner.
Their marriage is a disaster from the start. She is well educated, whereas Joshua is not. Joshua expects obedience, but Bathsheba has not been brought up that way. Bathsheba is abused, both sexual and emotionally throughout this novel. On the outside, she seemingly endures all the suffering and the loneliness that being married to Joshua brings, but inside she is angry, outraged by her treatment, and desperate to escape. But whereas Joshua turns to drink, she begins to plot his demise.
This is an emotionally challenging read and many times I found myself reaching for the tissues. There are scenes in this novel that are terribly upsetting, and what makes it all the more devastating is that the story is based on historical facts. The vulnerability of Bathsheba's position and her ability to turn those around her against her (she is very much her father's daughter and is rigid in her views about the Loyalist cause) does not help her, and indeed, it makes her a target. There is a certain ring of irony to the fact that Bathsheba was the first woman to be executed following the Declaration of Independence when her father had been a Loyalist brigadier general.
As I said there are some very upsetting scenes in this novel, not only the domestic abuse that she has to endure, but even near the end, when she is found guilty there is no compassion - not even for the child she was carrying. The end of this story reads much like a witch hunt - they want to make her pay and the end of this novel is truly horrendous.
I thought the author captured the essence of this era as well as the character of Bathsheba. This novel is certainly insightful but also harrowing. So be sure to have a box of tissues to hand when you read this book.