Choices Made with Little Options....

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January seems to be the time to make proclamations, declarations or resolutions to declare how the next year is going to go and what we are going to accomplish in it and by some time in February , most of us are on our way to breaking whatever we proclaimed we were going to change. How cocky of us, especially since we are only a month away from the Christmas season which purpose was, whether we like it or not , declaring and celebrating the birth of Christ and His authority over heaven and earth. Interesting that most greeting cards or seasonal wishes never seem to include the last part of the verse everyone likes quoting…

"Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests." Luke 2:14 NIV

Even if you do not see yourself a Christian, the principle of “ We don’t have much control over our fate” is pretty universal. Fates are characters in Greek mythology- holding the scissors and the treads of the tapestry of human existence, with a snip you’re done for. Most can’t argue good karma can’t exists without bad karma…. or you might simply adapt the Dreaded Pirate Robert philosophy in THE PRINCESS BRIDE (1987)…

“Good night, Westley. Good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely kill you in the morning.” William Goldman, Princess Bride

 
 

This is not a preachy blog about the foolishness of such declarations, but is about three stories that have the commonality of women trying to control their fate when reality has all but elimated the delusion that they have any control over their lives .

One is set in the 1800s and is about the unconventional course a widow takes with four children to think of…

One is set in the 1600’s and is about a soiled women who, even though betrayed, has her and her mother’s livelihood to think of .

One is set in the 1100’s and is about a virtuous women who looses everything then seeks to avenge her family and kill who she thinks is responsible

And all three women take on the roles of men, sometime literally putting the pants on, to better accomplish their goals. Huh, can’t seem to get away from that word.

 
Leaving Independence
By Leanne W. Smith
 
 

( published 2016 )

From the back cover…

Ever since she received word that her husband, Robert, was killed in the Civil War, Abigail (Baldwyn) has struggled to keep her Tennessee home and family together. Then a letter arrives claiming that Robert isn’t dead, yet he has no plans to return. Desperate for answers, Abigail travels to Independence, Missouri, where she joins a westbound wagon train to find him.

I have to confess what drew me first to LEAVING INDEPENDENCE was the wonderful cover designed by Shasti O’Leary Soudant. Oh my! Embroidery on the cover of an historical novel! Yum!

You have to understand that I am this first…

 
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For the “artist side” of things, check out my art website (www..moonflowerstudio.biz)

As a writer second, or better explained, an artist that writes and yes it is different. I spend much of my time, sitting and stitching, with the left side of the brain rather bored, thus I listen to a lot of documentaries on such things as history- art history, world history, western US history, women’s history, food history, etc. history.

But about a year ago, I was convicted that if I wanted to write fiction I did need to read more fiction, then I had to find fiction I wanted to read. It took some trial and error but I concluded that I was not going to give up my art time to hold a book, so I got…

 
 

an AUDIBLE membership with a….romance package addition, which means I get credit for one quality book a month that I own and well as many highlander, mountain man or pirate bodice rippers to check out for mindless reading and that’s the last I’ll say about that!

Two of the books above I bought, and one is well from the romance package, don’t judge me…

Like the back cover of LEAVING INDEPENDENCE states, Abigail, a proper Southern belle, takes her children on the Oregon Trail to find out if her unworthy military husband, who was proclaimed dead after the Civil War, is now stationed at a far off Outpost on the Oregon Trail and sending her letters. Problem is there is a very decent and very handsome Trail Boss, Hoke Matthews who takes Abigail and her entire family under his wing for the journey, doing all those little things that men do to sway a women like noticing the step to the wagon is too high off the ground and building another one, carrying water, bringing an occasional rabbit to cook for dinner, etc.

Actually in the Christian Book genre, LEAVING INDEPENDENCE, is rather a smooth read, not coming off as preachy, with an occasional seamless letter written between Abigail and her family’s former slave/cook and good friend Mimi encouraging Abigail to keep her faith. A true historical fiction with much detail, author Leanne W. Smith lays out many of the perils pioneers had to plan for before leaving civilization behind in Independence Missouri and on the trail where she spends sometime describing how the large trains were broken down into smaller units for such things as rotation of who pulled out from the camp first and daily duties to in time of attack, how the wagons came back together and circled.

Unlike LEAVING INDEPENDENCE, where most of the others on the wagon train were falling over themselves to help the sophisticated and elegant Abigail Baldwyn, the heroine in THE WHALER was all on her own in a time and place where very little help was going to come her way.

From the back cover….

Life in the windswept village of Rantum in the North Sea is fraught with peril and hardship. Most families must rely on arranged marriage just to survive. But free-spirited Maren Luersen doesn’t care for riches—her heart belongs to handsome but poor Thies Heinen. He may not have prospects or fortune to offer, but Maren knows their intense love can overcome any obstacle, and she is determined to be his bride.

The wealthy and mysterious Captain Rune Boyse has other plans. He shocks Maren with a startling marriage proposal, and even though he can give her family a better life, her love for Thies is too powerful to deny. But when tragedy strikes, she finds herself in debt to the captain and must set sail with him on a dangerous whale hunt—with no promise of a safe return.

If Maren survives, will life be the same back on shore? Or will her heart change course somewhere over the icy swells of the Arctic Sea?

Published in 2017, THE WHALER, translated from German, centers on Maren Luersen, who in 1764 lives on the Island Sylt in the North Sea, where half the year the sons and fathers are out hunting for whales and the women are usually left behind. That is until Maren refuses the marriage of Rune Boyse, the most powerful ship captain there is and then fate casts her family a hard blow and she find herself in his debt.

His motives well hidden, Rune Boyse offers Maren the same solution he would offer a man who found himself owing the powerful sea captain, a position on his ship for the whaling season.


Again, very much a historical fiction, author Ines Thorn , spends some time setting how life would be on a north sea island including an intriguing scene of the seasonal festivities where though Christian in name, still held on to festivals and traditions with more ancient of origins. Conditions are harsh, in climate, cultures and expectations, where women knit their own hair into mittens and stockings for the men who must brave the seas, up to the time the waters freeze to harvest enough whales so that their families can survive. Reading about the whaling trade over three hundred years ago, was very interesting, though you can sense the handwriting on the wall to why many of these species of whales and other north sea animals eventually went extinct, if this was truly the practice of these people.

The harsh treatment of Maren was hard to read at times, but I had to remind myself not to look at this story through the lens of of where I was sitting in the middle of the US in the 21st century.

Honor and owed debts were a big part of that time and place. Reality is that as in most of history, power comes to very few. Rune Boyse, the stern sea captain had all the authority, not just over Maren but over almost everyone around him. Their fate connected to his compassion. Which lead us to….

 

( published 2013)

Like Maren, Annyn Bretanne finds herself under the complete authority of another, but this time it is not for sheer survival but for revenge.

From the back cover…

For four years, Lady Annyn Bretanne has trained at arms with one end in mind—to avenge her brother’s murder as God has not deemed it worthy to do. Disguised as a squire, she sets off to exact revenge on a man known only by his surname, Wulfrith. But when she holds his fate in her hands, her will wavers and her heart whispers that her enemy may not be an enemy after all.
Baron Wulfrith, renowned trainer of knights, allows no women within his walls for the distraction they breed. What he never expects is that the impetuous young man sent to train under him is a woman who seeks his death—nor that her unveiling will test his faith and distract the warrior from his purpose.

The UNVEILING, is also a true historical novel and will send you to wikipedia.org to remember who was fight whom and for what in England’s too long history of kings that all seem to have the same name, a lot of Henry’s, Williams and Stephens in there.

The Bayeux’s Tapestry actually illustrates the Battle of Hasting’s that happened almost a hundred years before The Unveiling….

read up about real events  HERE

read up about real events HERE

but’s it's a tapestry…..remember my other life as an fabric collage artist. The tapestry is really an embroidery and is over 230 feet long! How cool is that!

 
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Okay, getting side tracked again. Making a note to do a post on the Bayuex Tapestry on my Moonflower Studio blog an when I do, I’ll post a link here. Where was I?

As said above THE UNVEILING’s setting is several decades later and has to do with the tentitve peace the king’s had as long as they had the allegiance of the right men under them. Wulfirth is such a man. A trainer of knights and a leader the king needs on his side to have the forces required to control all the factions of Mid Evil England and Scotland, ( not going back to wikipedia to verify exact details here, but you can). Like the sea captain of THE WHALER, a women thwarting Wulfirth’s plans, let alone trying to kill him, is something far, far out of his control.

Though the women in each of these books show much more strength and fortitude then those around them, here is a spoiler, somewhere in each story there is a time they are attacked or threatened by men and then saved and protected by men.

Not that I want to make this a long post about this very complicated idea, but here it is in a nutshell…

Even though we live, here in the United States, in a very egalitarian society, even with all the #metoo movement raging and all, there is still more places on the planet where women and girls fates are still more dependent on the good graces of the men around them or taking the words from the Book of Luke with a little tweek, or “upon whom men’s favor rests”

My point, and this is from the artist in me, who has been studying anatomy for far too long to not notice the physical differences between men…

Vesalius from  British Museum

Vesalius from British Museum

Titian from the  Getty

Titian from the Getty

 
Pollaiuolo from  The Met

Pollaiuolo from The Met

and women….

Zoan Andrea from  National Gallery of Art

Zoan Andrea from National Gallery of Art

If men can open the lids to jars when we can’t and crack the ice cube trays when we aren’t able to, that is a factor we don’t seem to consider much. Just yesterday, I marveled at my husbands ability to raise a big ax over his head and split a rather large piece of firewood in half. I can’t lift that ax high enough to create the need force to split anything and if I tried I would probably hurt myself.

How “equal” can we truly be when if someone “wants to” they can pretty much make someone else do something or keep someone else from doing something from sheer strength. I just don’t think we are as far into the “brains not brawn” era as we think.

If you think we are, watch…

 
 

(I’m an Amazon Affiliate, so if you’re looking for a good movie or book for the weekend, click on any of the movie posters or book covers to check the titles out at…

 
 
Julia KellyComment