From Publishers Weekly
LaPlante, an 11th-generation granddaughter of Hutchinson, provides a fast-paced and elegant account of Hutchinson's life and work, including the reasons that Hutchinson's teachings threatened the fabric of Puritan theology. By the time she was born, her father, Francis Marbury, had already been in and out of jail for challenging the religious authority of the Anglican priests in England. His continuing nonconformity, according to LaPlante, had a lasting impact on Hutchinson's own views of religious authority. Hutchinson also learned from the Reverend John Cotton that God's revelation to individuals occurred mystically as a kind of inner light and did not require a formal religious setting. After she moved to the colonies with her husband, William Hutchinson, she began to teach that men and women could attain salvation not through performing religious works but through this inward grace. The Puritans, who emphasized that the covenant of works was the only guarantee of salvation, charged her with antinomianism (an attack against the law of God) and with violating God's commands that a woman should not teach. LaPlante offers a stimulating account of Hutchinson's eloquent self-defense at her trial. Knowing that the magistrates had no religious or political grounds to convict her, since a woman was not a subject of the law, Hutchinson stymied their questioning. LaPlante's first-rate biography offers glimpses into the life and teachings of a much-neglected figure in early American religious history.
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Much ado is often made over the contributions of the founding fathers to the liberties Americans enjoy today, but with rare exceptions, such as the achievements of Abigail Adams and Betsy Ross, the roles women played in formulating our national philosophy are very little known. Moreover, the stories that are known include only scanty information about the players' personal history and their words. Thanks to LaPlante, at least some of Anne Hutchinson's words are preserved in this well-researched account of her testimony against charges of heresy and sedition before the Massachusetts General Court in 1637. Declared an American Jezebel by Massachusetts' first governor, John Winthrop, Hutchinson is portrayed here as a feminist and a fighter for religious freedom, who eventually was banished to Rhode Island. As LaPlante paints a fascinating portrait of this complex mother of 15 and delineates her heresy by clarifying the distinction between her beliefs and those of her Puritan adjudicators, she deftly depicts the gritty world of colonial New England, too. Donna ChavezCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved