Alfred Woollacott didn’t have to look too far from home for an idea about a novel. He turned to his own family tree to find inspiration. While The Immigrant: One from My Four Legged Stool is historical fiction, it’s about his ancestors during the 1600s. His imagined account not only seems plausible, but is a wonderful and enthralling read.
John Law, a Scotsman, is captured by Lord Cromwell’s forces in the seventeenth century during the Battle of Dunbar. Law survives the march to Durham, England. During his imprisonment in England, he is sold as an indentured servant and Law will have to serve his time in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. This move alters his life on many levels, including being branded an outcast in a new land.
The young man learns quickly how hard it is to adapt to a new country and to people who aren’t accepting. This saga shows the determination of one man to overcome obstacles. John Law may not be a welcome addition to the new country, but he’s determined not to let that break him.
History books are filled with deeds and accomplishments of great people: kings, queens, presidents, explorers, scientists, authors, and many others. However, the past is peopled by so many more, including the everyday person. John Law may not have changed the history of Scotland or of early Colonial America, but he did live through the times and his life matters. Not just to his descendents, but to those who want to know more about the time period. To know how people lived everyday life and how they coped with traumatic events. Historical fiction offers a wonderful glimpse into how the little person lived. Not only does this genre educate the readers, it entertains them.
This novel transports the reader back in time. The author has done a wonderful job of staying true to the time period, including having his characters speak in the dialect from the 1600s. This takes some getting used to when the reader first starts, but using today’s vernacular doesn’t fit. Historical fiction is judged by its authenticity, including the language.
Woollacott has done his research into the time period and includes many of the great tumults of the age. The wars, discrimination, unjust laws or customs, and unfortunate family traumas, all aid with maintaining the stories authenticity while also captivating the reader. The main reason the reader cares about the story is because the author has created intriguing characters with depth. This family saga sucks the reader in, making them one of its family members sitting on the sidelines, fascinated by what’s going to happen next. The family, the history, and the importance of it all comes alive making this time period accessible to readers.
This is a heartfelt story that will captivate the reader. For those who love to learn about different time periods, look no further. This is Woollacott’s debut novel, which he started when he retired. It’s a real shame he didn’t start writing earlier since he is so very talented. Hopefully this novel won’t be his last and he continues with the Law family saga.
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