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Strange Saint Hardcover – August 8, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 379 pages
  • Publisher: The Toby Press (August 8, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1592641245
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592641246
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.9 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,068,558 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This engrossing historical novel, Beahrs's debut, dramatizes the experience of America's first English settlers through the eyes of a fierce young heroine who confronts both a savage new landscape and the dogmatic order of her congregation. Melode, a 17-year-old orphan, works as a servant among the Saints, a community of religious separatists in 17th-century England better known today as the Pilgrims. She falls in love with Adam Stradling, the minister's son, and follows him to America, hoping to escape her life of servitude. Once they're reunited on the westward-bound ship, however, an increasingly religious Adam rejects her. Mel takes futile revenge by seducing another man, but they are discovered and cast off the ship to fend for themselves in the wilds of Newfoundland. Along with her daughter, Mary, the result of her unfortunate dalliance, Melode is eventually rescued. She sails to Plymouth Colony, where she struggles with the community strictures, the shame of her past and the uncertainty of her future. Beahrs serves up sumptuous description and gracefully evokes the period's language with anthropological precision in this moving and enlightening revisitation of America's colonial history. (Oct.)
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About the Author

Andrew Beahrs lives and writes in Berkeley with his wife and son. Strange Saint is his first novel.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Harnett VINE VOICE on February 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This stirring and earthy debut colorfully depicts the insularity and harshness of 17th century agrarian life from the viewpoint of Melode, a passionate and lonely 16-year-old girl. An orphan, she doesn't know who her parents were, only that they died in or fled from the tavern fire the local religious sect, the "Saints," set to drive them out when she was two. The only survivor, Melode was not adopted by the strict, dour community, but taken in as a servant.

She chafes against her lowly, outcast position in a society that claims itself egalitarian, and resentfully despises their hypocrisy, but it doesn't occur to her to renounce the only religion and community she has ever known. Where would she go? What would she do? She does her work and confines her rebellion to small things - until she falls in love and lust with Adam Stradling, son of the Saints' minister and leader and a bit of a rebel himself, who delights her with his irreverent mimicry of his father, John.

Beahrs, with a background in archaeology and anthropology, bases this community on the Plymouth Colony people, the Pilgrims, as they came to be called. Farmers (husbandmen) for the most part, they keep to themselves, shunning the world and fearful of persecution. Because they do not recognize the king as the head of their church, their religion is illegal. Within the community discipline is harsh, with the stocks employed for infractions like observing forbidden holidays or clinging to superstitions. It is a pared down religion, shorn of frills and ceremony.

But Beahrs keeps his characters human, allowing them to stray from the righteous path in one direction or another. Some, including Melode, cling to the community because it's all they know.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Oculus on July 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I am always delighted to find a work of historical fiction where the author demonstrates command not only of the facts and themes of the time, but of the metaphors and language that were used by people of that era. (The books Jem and Sam and An Instance of the Fingerpost come to mind.) The plot of this book is compelling enough, but it is the writing that is most evocative. I look forward to Beahrs' next book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By James Robertson on February 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Absolutely a keeper, this book allows the reader entry into early 17th century life in England and beyond, to the New World.

Extremely well-written with a compelling narrative, Beahrs has re-created a fascinating time in history with a page-turning plot.
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By Leslie on May 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had been given his second book The Sin Eaters and loved it so Ihad to buy the first book and read it. Everyone should read these books.
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More About the Author

Andrew Beahrs's writing takes deep dives into unexpected historical pools. In Twain's Feast: Searching for America's Lost Foods in the Footsteps of Samuel Clemens, he explored the links between flavor and place that defined Mark Twain's favorite wild dishes--and have since caused them to disappear from American tables. He has written about food and history for Smithsonian, the New York Times, the Atlantic, Gastronomica, Virginia Quarterly Review, and many more. His pair of historical novels, Strange Saint and The Sin Eaters, drew on his graduate work in archaeology to offer a unique vision of early America. Andrew lives in Berkeley with his family.