Woollacott’s debut novel, the first in a planned trilogy, takes a long view of family history, from the predominant clan culture in Scotland during English civil war to early Colonial life in Massachusetts to the outbreak of the American Revolution.
Having clashed with British troops at Concord, young Minuteman Reuben Law suffers the loss of his captain. Distraught over the loss and socially shunned for his Scottish heritage, Law reflects on the history of his great grandfather John Law, a Scot who was sent to the Colonies as one of Cromwell’s prisoners during the English civil war. Captured by the Covenanters and brought to the point of starvation, John was indentured to work in an ironworks near Concord, though he decided to continue his indenture as a public sheepherder for the community. Living on meager rations, he built a shelter and began planting on the land allotted to him, taking advice from a helpful native and fantasizing about the “New Scotland” he was creating for himself. As a victim of extreme anti-Scottish prejudice by the Puritan locals, John preferred to remain a recluse on the outskirts of town. Nevertheless, he fell for a young Puritan girl who brought her prize ewe for him to care for; eventually, the two (humans) married. As Woollacott deftly shows, the couple experienced some of the tremendous trials of Colonial life: infant mortality, ambivalent natives (King Philip’s War wrought havoc on natives and settlers alike), the threat of public disfavor, and the confusing and ever changing rules regarding landownership. Woollacott takes readers to war three times and on two continents, but his most impressive achievement is the gravity and majesty with which he depicts the everyday domestic realities faced by the Laws, from the romantic tension of sleeping on either side of a bundling board to the joy of a roaring fireside.
A gripping tale about the endurance and fortitude of an unlikely colonist.
“Woollacott writes with color, creating scenes with drama and pathos. He also has an uncanny ability to get into the heads of his characters. The Immigrant is a book you won’t want to miss.”