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Publisher's Summary

When his father dies and his older brother inherits the family’s homestead in Stogumber, England, William becomes an easy target for recruiters of skilled workers for the newly chartered Massachusetts Bay Colony in America. A devout Puritan (and political outcast in 1640) of marriageable age but landless, he faces conscription for a looming civil war. 

The colonies promise land grants and a godly Puritan community. Believing it’s God’s will, William leaps at the chance to be counted and belong. He bounds a ship for Boston, Massachusetts, with his inheritance: a bit of cash, his father’s loom, and two spinning wheels. Twenty-four years later, the year his 10th child is born, he must admit his mistake. 

Although he’s reaped the bounty of God’s providence tenfold, the political winds turn, the Indians become enemies, and his children leave the faith. What he’d fled in England has followed him to New England. William, the Patriarch is the first book of The Watertown Chronicles, fictional accounts of a real family that lived through the turbulent and devastating King Philip’s Indian War in 1675-1676.

©2017, 2020 Nancy Shattuck (P)2021 Nancy Shattuck

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Authors Words

I love that Audible books allows the author to review their own productions. As author, I hope to bring a new perspective to this endeavor. It's always thrilling to view one's own work in print or to hear it read aloud by a narrator who gets it. In that, I've been fortunate. Everyone that I've worked with on this project, the publishers of the print edition, the Ardent Writer Press, the illustrator for the cover, Philip Shaddock, and the narrator, Jack Wynter, have been in tune from beginning to end. So, forgive me for my open bias on the overall production, story, and performance.

When I began the audiobook process, I initially looked for a British narrator because the protagonist in this novel immigrated from Somerset. It was important to depict this early American as an immigrant. However, I was delighted at Jack Wynter's audition when he made it clear he could master many of the regional accents, including that distinctive Somerset one. What's more, I threw him the most difficult scene in this book for the audition, the donnybrook in chapter five when the Watertown councilmen argue about guns and taxes, and he added several more regional accents as well. The icing on the cake? He explained that he had narrated a historical novel on the same period, King Philip's war. He knew how to pronounce all of the Indian names. The result of these happy coincidences are, I think, a wonderful performance.

The Watertown Chronicles are my experiment with a new narrative technique. Most historal novel series are chronicles that stretch across time, even centuries. However, I wanted to illuminate the minutiae of a historical period by concentrating on a short slice from history that would allow a before, during and after view of one critical event without telling the story from an omnipotent narrator's point of view. So, I chose to tell the larger story from many viewpoints. This narrative exposes history from the point of view of those who live through it, in this case one family.

I liken this style of storytelling to one memorable scene in the novel The Magus, where the protagonist opens a door to find all the different aspects of his own being, from childhood to adulthood, simultaneously circulating before him. The family--father, mother, and ten children--allow me to view history in a like manner. Each book in the series is one member telling a different story of the same twenty-five years. I am hoping to give more depth to history than a singly threaded narrative can give. Last, I am using my own ancestors as models for this fictional family not to raise their importance in history but to illuminate the common man's struggles in the New World.

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Fascinating Historical Fiction

The author documented lots of research to back up this fictional account of her ancestors in early American history. I should say that she brought history to life! I am eager to read the chronicles of the rest of the series. The narrator also did a great job giving appropriate inflection to the various characters, of which there were many, and distinguishing their voices from each other.