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Publisher's Summary

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 and 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 listener to a little-known time in early America and explores the real meanings of freedom, faith, and acceptance.

©2014 Amy Belding Brown (P)2014 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about Flight of the Sparrow

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

More Romance Novel Than Historical Fiction

This book has some truly lovely, illustrative descriptions and is an easy romantic read. It has a dreamy, breathy narrative, punctuated with moments of danger, grief, and guilt. If you are looking for an entertaining, romantic read, this may be the book for you.

As a piece of literature and historical fiction, I found Flight of the Sparrow wanting. The poignant, and in many cases devastating, events of Rowlandson’s captivity are presented with dreamy detachment. The protagonist consistently analyzes her situation instead of experiencing it. As a result, the reader is left with a bland narrative that could otherwise have been gripping.

One of the author’s strengths is her grip on psychology, especially the way her characters respond to trauma. The protagonist realistically experiences PTSD, and her children heal with believable alteration and resilience. Likewise, the deterioration of trust between the protagonist and her husband was well executed.

That said, individual character development does suffer. Most characters in this book are either “good” and support women’s rights and interracial marriage, or “bad” and believe in god and patriarchy. The pointed exceptions to this rule are many of the natives who, though they occasionally fall into noble savage stereotypes, demonstrate a breadth of motives and behaviors that give them gravity beyond their immediate relationship with the protagonist.

Though she frequently discusses the concept of profound feelings, the protagonist struggles to believably demonstrate a range of emotion beyond confusion, arousal, and resentment. Likewise, while her male love interests embody kindness and devotion, they lack individuating personalities.

Flight of the Sparrow is satisfying as a romance novel and disappointing as historical fiction. As an account of Mary Rowlandson’s captivity, I found this book insipid and overly modernized. Had I been looking for a history-flavored romance novel like the Outlander series, I would have been delighted to discover Flight of the Sparrow.

9 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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A Heartbreaking Chapter in American History

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would recommend this book to a friend, first because it is a gripping and enjoyable story and secondly because few people are even aware of this particular historical series of events.

What did you like best about this story?

I liked the accuracy of the history, as the author closely followed the facts of Mary Rowlandson's life and accurately portrayed the background realities of everyday life in early colonial times.

What about Heather Henderson’s performance did you like?

Heather Henderson was perfect for this story. The tone and cadence of her voice fit well with the historical context of the novel.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

This book made me feel sad for the tragic treatment of the English to the Indian population and the desperate ruthlessness of the Indians in response. It is sad that the blindness of fanatical religious beliefs (in my opinion) caused the English to look on the native people as savages rather than as fellow human beings worthy of respect.

Any additional comments?

The author brought the historical person of Mary Rowlandson and her family to life and told a true-to-life tale that could well have been an accurate portrayal, even taking the fictional parts of the story into account. I enjoyed this book very much and am now interested in learning more about the King Phillips War, which seems to be a largely forgotten period in history.

7 people found this helpful

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Way better than expected

After reading the description I thought this would be a pretty good book to read, especially since it's included with my membership. Little did I know that this would be a story I could not put down. This beautiful yet sad story had me procrastinating like no other. I recommend this book 10/10! It was easy to follow along and stay focused which is usually quite difficult for me.

6 people found this helpful

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Excellent

Beautifully written! The descriptions were so detailed I could feel them in my heart. Narration was wonderful...there could not be a better narrator for this story. The historically accurate account left me wanting to know more of Puritan life in early America.

6 people found this helpful

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Puritans, Indians and FREEDOM

I nearly stopped listening to this book at the beginning, so repulsive was the treatment of the women of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1676 by the Puritan clergy and their own husbands. But knowing that it was based on the true story of the capture of Mary Rowlandson, I stuck it out. As time went on, I became mesmerized by the alternatingly harsh, then exhilaratingly freeing experience of Mary’s time with the Indians. I have long abhorred the treatment of the American Indians by our government, who has lied to, cheated and done all manner of hateful things to destroy the people that are native to this country. So, Mary’s tale of the freedom she felt, even while on the run with the Indians and nearly starving to death, was an amazing one. Even as a prisoner, she was treated justly, for the most part. It’s hard to know how much of the book is fiction and how much is truth, but just the one thing that was left in her own book (which was totally misconstrued and edited until unrecognizable by the good reverend whom she struck a deal with) shows that there must be some truth to this account. She stood by her story that she had not been violated by the Indians, despite all the gossip (in the church and town) to the contrary, and this remained in her published book. The raw honesty with which the book is written is mind boggling and eye opening. Needless to say, from the beginning, I changed my mind from nearly quitting to hanging on every word. A courageous woman that was centuries ahead of her time . . . Don’t miss this one!

6 people found this helpful

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Simple

The story was simple - not very deep in drama, emotion or character development. Not sure I'd recommend unless you want something very light.

5 people found this helpful

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Loved this Book!

I really loved this book. The story is very graphic. The Indian and Pilgrims attacks on one another are in vivid detail. The narration is excellent. I will look for more books under this author.

3 people found this helpful

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Beautiful flowing imagery and storytelling

I loved this book. Although I did have a difficult time in the beginning with the main character’s views on Native Americans. Once I delved a bit further though, I came to realize that these were important to show the emergence of the gradual change in Mary’s views.
This is sometimes a heart breaking tale of Puritan ideals versus the kindness of charity. I will remember this as one of my favorite books of all time.

2 people found this helpful

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I’m so glad I stuck with it!

I initially had a hard time with the reading of it in the beginning but I stuck with it and I’m so glad I did! It turned out to be a pretty awesome story! I had no idea how it would end. It was one of my favorite stories so far.

2 people found this helpful

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Enjoyable story and it made me think

I really enjoyed this book. I loved the historical information about life in the colonial period from just the tasks of daily life to the attitudes and ideas about politics, women's roles and rights, family relationships, etc... I found the journey Mary goes through as she is forced to look at the ideas and beliefs she has always taken for granted thought provoking for myself and I found myself wondering what outcome to root for as the story progressed and feeling conflicted as she was conflicted. Enjoyable story, I think this would be great for a book group to read and discuss.

2 people found this helpful