A Novel of
Amy Belding Brown
July 1, 2014/ ISBN 9780451466693
Literature & Fiction – Biographical Historical,
1672 New England
by Linda Morelli
Rowlandson’s Puritan minister husband is away when a
tribe of Nipmuc Indians attack her village, capture Mary and
her three children and kill several others before they set
fire to the town. Mary carries her mortally wounded daughter
during the forced march to the Nipmuc settlement, but her
daughter dies and she becomes separated from her children.
Fortunately, James Printer, an educated Indian who speaks
English, befriends Mary and several times saves her life.
Mary is given to Weetamoo, a female tribal leader of high
status. As Weetamoo’s slave, Mary works hard, but gains
more freedom and independence than she had ever known as a
Puritan. She soon adjusts to native ways.
Mary’s emotional growth was the main focus of this novel
for me. A woman who bows her head in obedience to her husband,
Mary’s life with the native Indians reveals the vast
differences between her culture and that of the natives. The
natives show their children love, not harsh Puritan discipline.
Females like Weetamoo have power and respect.
After Mary returns to Joseph, the community regards her as
“tainted” though she protests that she was treated
kindly and never molested. Soon Mary feels as caged as the
sparrow her husband gave her. She misses the freedom that
life with the natives provided. I easily identified with the
longing for her rapport with James, whose many kindnesses
made Mary’s life with the Nipmuc bearable and for whom
she eventually feels more than mere friendship. It’s
due to her feelings toward him that the story of her captivity
is finally told.
Flight of the Sparrow is a mesmerizing tale, based
upon historical facts and persons who lived in Colonial America
– a truly engrossing and entertaining novel I found
hard to put down.