book review, historical fiction

Review: Mayflower Chronicles: The Tale of Two Cultures by Kathryn Brewster Haueisen

 

Mayflower Chronicles: The Tale of Two Cultures by Kathryn Brewster Haueisen straddles the line between fiction and non-fiction in telling the intertwining stories of the English religious rebels and the Pokanoket people and how these cultures clashed.

There are two interesting points about the author, Kathryn Brewster Haueisen. She is the descendant of the Brewster family who came to the Americas on the Mayflower. Much of the story is written from the perspective of her ancestor, which must have been a point of great interest and pride for her. Second, since half of this story is about the Pokanoket people, I was very please to find a forward written by a sachem and tribal historian for the Pokanoket people. What’s more, Haueisen reached out to the Pokanoket people for cultural and historical research. I believe a portion of the profit made from this book is also going toward the Pokanoket people and their cultural preservation. I know it’s not ideal to have a white person write a story from the perspective of another race, however, I believe the author did her due dilligance here and is also turning the book into a good fundraising cause.

Although the Brewster family are the author’s ancestors, I found the perspective and storyline of the Pokanoket people much more engaging and interesting. The Brewster storyline in England, Netherlands, and finally the Americas was honestly a bit dull. Maybe that’s because we generally have some knowledge about the people who came over on the Mayflower and it’s always more exciting to read something new than something we already know.

A big point I really struggled with in keeping my interest was just how much this book walked the line between fiction and non-fiction. Many times the book seemed like narrative non-fiction. There are scenes with dialogue and setting, however, they always seemed quite brief and non-descript. I think this book would have been more suited to narrative non-fiction, since that’s what I mostly felt I was reading while some forced fictionalized scenes that seemed awkward amongst all the factual details. As such, there was a distance in getting to know the characters because they always seemed 2D. I felt the closest to the Pokanoket characters because it seemed like more depth was given to their story.

I appreciate the author’s research and initiative to work with the Pokanoket people in crafting this work, but I think the narrative and characters really struggled and seemed dull because the book read more like non-fiction.