July 14, 2014

Flight of the Sparrow: A Novel of Early Ameria by Amy Belding Brown

A historical novel based on the life of Mary Rowlandson


She suspects that she has changed too much to ever fit easily into English society again. The wilderness has now become her home. She can interpret the cries of birds. She has seen vistas that have stolen away her breath. She has learned to live in a new, free way.... 

Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1676. Even before Mary Rowlandson was captured by Indians on a winter day of violence and terror, she sometimes found herself in conflict with her rigid Puritan community. Now, her home destroyed, her children lost to her, she has been sold into the service of a powerful woman tribal leader, made a pawn in the ongoing bloody struggle between English settlers and native people. Battling cold, hunger, and exhaustion, Mary witnesses harrowing brutality but also unexpected kindness. To her confused surprise, she is drawn to her captors’ open and straightforward way of life, a feeling further complicated by her attraction to a generous, protective English-speaking native known as James Printer. All her life, Mary has been taught to fear God, submit to her husband, and abhor Indians. Now, having lived on the other side of the forest, she begins to question the edicts that have guided her, torn between the life she knew and the wisdom the natives have shown her.

Based on the compelling true narrative of Mary Rowlandson, Flight of the Sparrow is an evocative tale that transports the reader to a little-known time in early America and explores the real meanings of freedom, faith, and acceptance.


Flight of the Sparrow is a biographical novel about the experiences of Mary Rowlandson who lived in 17th century Massachusetts at a time when conflict with Native Americans was at its pinnacle. After the town of Lancaster is attacked and burned, Mary and three of her children survive, but are taken captive by a local tribe. She is separated from her children, except for the youngest, Sarah, who is severely injured, and wounded herself, Mary stoically carries her child as far as she can, desperate to try to save her daughter’s life, but knowing that there is little hope. They are taken to the Indian village where she struggles to survive, despite the ultimate loss of Sarah. She is befriended by a Praying Indian named James Printer, who helps guide her in this strange new culture that has been forced upon her.

I found Mary’s story and plight heart-wrenching for it is hard to imagine such loss, such cruelty, not only at having witnessed the murder of friends and family, but of having to stoically go on with one’s life without respite. The first half of the story pertains to Mary’s captivity and all that she had to endure. Following that is her rescue and her re-assimilation into a society that would never again embrace her, that almost shuns her. But Mary had somewhat adapted to the native culture, and found many things to laud about it. So when she is installed back into her previous life, a whole new set of struggles arise. Her marriage, her family life, even her Christian faith have been shaken.

A great deal of research went into the writing of this novel, made evident by the many interesting details and facts presented through a fictionalized prose. The author did a wonderful job of bringing to life the personal side of Mary’s story including the reactions of her family, friends, and other contacts. The author has presented not only Mary’s suffering, but also that of the Puritans and the tumult faced by the native Americans. A very compelling and authentic story! Highly recommended. 

3 comments:

Mystica said...

A new one for me. Sounds good.

Tara said...

Was already on my wishlist, but now I only want to read it more. Thanks for sharing!

Mirella Sichirollo Patzer said...

Yes, it was a truly enjoyable book. Shocking how afterwards Mary couldn't fit into either society.