Central New York author and one-time archeologist Jo Ann Butler has just published “The Reputed Wife,” a historical novel based on the true-life escapades of one of colonial New England’s most notorious women.
Herodias Long married unwisely and far too young, as did the famed Scarlett O’Hara, and both women blustered their way through life with charm and bravado. And both “The Scarlet Letter” and “The Reputed Wife” explore the harsh treatment dealt by Puritans to those who broke society’s rules.
Herodias was whipped and she faced a hostile crowd sheltering her infant in her arms, just like Hester Prynne. However, unlike Hester and Scarlett, Herodias Long was real.
Butler depicted Herodias’ early life and the hectic founding of New England in her award winning debut novel, “Rebel Puritan.” Now she explores Puritan repression and Herodias’ messy domestic affairs in The Reputed Wife.”
“JoAnn Butler brings her spirited heroine to life in a beautifully wrought tale with as much drama as a soap opera, but built on a solid historical foundation.” Ginger Myrick, award-winning author of “Welsh Healer” and “El Rey.”
Butler tapped court records and heart-breaking accounts of religious intolerance to bring her tough-as-nails ancestor to life.
She said, “Herodias Long was known as Herod Gardner in 1658 when she was stripped to the waist and flogged by Puritans. She carried her infant daughter 60 miles through wilderness to defend Quaker freedom of speech and religion, fully aware that she risked the lash. Quakers faced far worse, including the gallows.”
One of those Quakers was the famed Mary Dyer, who was hanged in 1660.
“Most researchers assume that Herodias was a Quaker because she was whipped for a Quaker cause,” she added. “Herod was not in the Rhode Island Friends’ records, so if she ever identified herself as a Quaker, it wasn’t for long.”
Butler explained that the Society of Friends were scornfully called “Quakers” by the Puritans.
“Herod was a woman of conscience and a friend of Quakers, but I don’t believe that she was actually a Friend,” Butler said.
Butler noted that George Gardner, who rescued Herod after she was abandoned by her first husband, was tried for adultery and that he and Herod were hiding a secret, which could get them whipped in their home town of Newport, Rhode Island.
But when asked to explain, Ms. Butler smiled and said, “You’ll just have to read the book.”
The Reputed Wife is the sequel to “Rebel Puritan,” the first volume in a series about Herodias Long. It explores the limited rights of women in a restrictive society, seen through the eyes of a child-bride trapped in a disastrous marriage.
“The Golden Shore” will conclude the “Scandalous Life” series. Butler plans to publish it in 2015.
Those seeking more information about the book may visit www.rebelpuritan.com.
The book is also available at the river’s end bookstore at 19 W. Bridge St., Oswego, and at Backstreet Books and Bistro at 201 Oneida St., Fulton.
The Fulton Public Library is hosting Butler for a talk about the book June 4 and other events are coming soon.