John Brown's Women by Susan Higginbotham


Welcome to The Book’s Delight. Today we are excited to host author Susan Higginbotham and her new book John Brown’s Women. Curl up in a favorite chair with a cup of something warm, we have a great excerpt for you!


The Details


Book Title: John Brown's Women: A Novel

Author: Susan Higginbotham

Publication Date: 7th December 2021

Publisher: Onslow Press

Page Length: 402 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction 


Author Bio: 


Susan Higginbotham is the author of a number of historical novels set in medieval and Tudor England and, more recently, nineteenth-century America, including The Traitor's Wife, The Stolen Crown, Hanging Mary, and The First Lady and the Rebel. She and her family, human and four-footed, live in Maryland, just a short drive from where John Brown made his last stand. When not writing or procrastinating, Susan enjoys traveling and collecting old photographs.




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The Blurb: 

As the United States wrestles with its besetting sin—slavery—abolitionist John Brown is growing tired of talk. He takes actions that will propel the nation toward civil war and thrust three courageous women into history. 

Wealthy Brown, married to John Brown's oldest son, eagerly falls in with her husband's plan to settle in Kansas. Amid clashes between pro-slavery and anti-slavery settlers, Wealthy's adventure turns into madness, mayhem, and murder. 

Fifteen-year-old Annie Brown is thrilled when her father summons her to the farm he has rented in preparation for his raid. There, she guards her father's secrets while risking her heart. 

Mary Brown never expected to be the wife of John Brown, much less the wife of a martyr. When her husband's daring plan fails, Mary must travel into hostile territory, where she finds the eyes of the nation riveted upon John—and upon her. 

Spanning three decades, John Brown's Women is a tale of love and sacrifice, and of the ongoing struggle for America to achieve its promise of liberty and justice for all.


Trigger Warnings:

Deaths of young children through illness or accidents (not graphically described); implied heavy petting involving a willing minor.



The Excerpt:

 Late at night, they disembarked at Harrisburg, then stumbled onto the train that would take them to Harper’s Ferry. Annie and Martha, who now considered herself an old hand at riding the rails, promptly dozed off until Oliver nudged them. “We’ll be at the Ferry soon.” 

And soon, after their train passed through Sandy Hook, Maryland and crossed a bridge, they were. 

Oliver had not exaggerated the beauty of the area. Surrounded by blue-tinted mountains, the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers conjoined, tumbling over rocks that peeked through the water. Yet at the same time, machinery clanged around them and smoke filled the sky, for like Springfield, this was the site of a thriving federal armory.

 “I’ll show you a prettier view after we eat,” Oliver said. “We’ve some time before I need to find Father.” 

Next to the railroad platform stood the Wager House Hotel. “Is this a temperance hotel?” Martha asked primly. 

Oliver could not restrain a snort of laughter. “Lord, no. They’d abolish slavery before they’d abolish their liquor here. Come to think of it, maybe that would be the way to go about it—telling them that if they had one, they couldn’t have the other. Why, look at that man; he’s started early.” 

Martha looked disapprovingly at a man half-sauntering, half-stumbling by and clutched Oliver’s arm tighter. 

“Are there many slaves here?” Annie asked in a low voice. 

“Some, and quite a few free blacks here as well. But there aren’t that many big plantations in these parts. There’s plenty of misery here, just not on a large scale.” 

He led the way into the hotel, where the man standing behind the counter nodded at Oliver. “Good morning, Mr. Smith.” 

Annie looked around in confusion before she remembered that they were all traveling under aliases. Up until now, they’d never had the occasion to state their names. 

Mr. Oliver Smith nodded suavely back. 

“Are you settled at the Kennedy Farm yet?” 

“Not quite,” said Oliver. He indicated the girls. “My wife and my sister are here to help us along.” 

Mr. Fouke, as Annie soon learned he was, inclined his head. “Welcome to Virginia, ladies. 

Mrs. Smith and Miss Smith smiled graciously. 

“Have you seen my father in town?” Oliver asked. 

“Not since yesterday. I guess he’s busy at the farm. Hurry, boy, the gentleman and ladies are waiting for you.” 

A porter bustled over and relieved them of their luggage, earning a curt nod from Oliver. When they reached their room, Oliver said, “Thank you, sir,” and handed him a coin. 

“Does everyone here know you, then?” Annie asked when the porter had left them. 

“Pretty much. Even with all the people the armory employs, it’s a small enough place for everyone to notice a stranger passing through and to inquire about his plans. So, don’t forget, Father is interested in buying cattle and driving them up north.” 

“Not sheep?” From her years in Akron with the Perkins-Brown flock, Annie could talk sheep nearly as well as Father and the boys. 

“Cattle,” Oliver said firmly. 

In the dining room, two gentlemen greeted Oliver, as did the waiter. Surrounded by all these Virginians, all of whom knew the Browns’ business, or at least thought they did, Annie had never felt more Northern in her life.



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  1. Thank you so much for hosting the blog tour for John Brown's Women.

    All the best,
    Mary Anne
    The Coffee Pot Book Club


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