Fiction Review: Alison's Legacy

Alison's Legacy
By Toby Heathcotte
Ebook $5.99, ISBN 0932866027
Triskelion Publishing, March 2004
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Paperback $15.00, ISBN: 0964088223, 297 pp.
Mardel Books, Feb 2000

Book review by Kathleen Cunningham Guler

Alison’s Legacy, the first book in the Alma Chronicle Series, deftly explores the harrowing social and political climate a woman faced in eighteenth century England through the absorbing story of Alison McPhearson, a Scottish immigrant living in an English village near Salisbury. An innkeeper, Alison is left pregnant and abandoned by a brutal husband. In a time when women had absolutely no rights, she is faced each day with the danger that she could be shunted off to the desolate streets of London — a death sentence in itself — just for being with child and having no more husband, for showing sympathy to the Jacobites, or for her friendship with Judith, a woodswoman and seer. Alison challenges the unfairness of life with stoic courage. She hides her pregnancy and the birth of her son, Lainn; learns to read, write and cipher; and successfully runs the inn alone. Judith, her mentor, becomes foster mother to Lainn, who also shows signs of being a seer.

Alison learns that the church ignores the notion of reincarnation, but as she meets and finds love in an English officer, Thomas Whitfield, she comes to realize through vague memories and dreams that she, Thomas, Judith, Lainn and her brutal husband have all been together before and must rectify past mistakes.

In Alison’s Legacy, Toby Heathcotte creates immediate sympathy for Alison’s plight right from the first page. Alison’s courage to remain independent is believable because she does not defy the social system — she cannot, not without causing her own death and that of her son’s and her mentor’s. Instead she finds creative ways to work around it. The concept of reincarnation is well woven into the story as part of an older form of spirituality. Powerful scenes fill this intriguing book, illustrating the lack of rights and unfair consequences for women of the era, just for having plain bad luck.

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