This book is a rich resource of well researched historical facts and a concise re-telling of the story of one of many Mayflower pilgrims.
Noelle describes the characters in a series of narratives that depict the crossing with its difficulties, the landing, the search for a suitable location, the troubles establishing themselves as a village, as neighbours to natives and as a community.
Through a variety of characters different perspectives illustrate the hardships, the obstacles, dangers, tragedies and the fight for survival.
Exploitation by the land owners, religious differences and politics also come into play but all is wrapped around the central character Mary Allerton.
As European I feel I learned an enormous amount about those early days of settlement, how natives and settlers interacted and how many people didn’t make it.
Knowing Noelle as an academic writer I felt safe in her hands to trust the historical accurateness, everything felt plausible and informative.
Last but not least, Mary is a strong character and her spirit is admirable.
It was difficult to let her go
The Last Pilgrim: The Life of Mary Allerton Cushman captures and celebrates the grit and struggle of the Pilgrim women, who stepped off the Mayflower in the winter of 1620 to an unknown world – one filled with hardship, danger and death. The Plymouth Colony would not have survived without them.
Mary Allerton Cushman was the last surviving passenger of the Mayflower, dying at age 88 in 1699. Her unusually long life and her relationships with important men – her father, Isaac Allerton and her husband, Thomas Cushman – gave her a front row seat to the history of the Plymouth Colony from its beginnings as the first permanent settlement in New England to when it became part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1691.
Mary’s life is set against the real background of that time. The Last Pilgrim begins from her father’s point of view – she was, after all, only four when she descended into the cramped and dank living space below deck on the Mayflower – but gradually assumes Mary’s voice, as the colony achieves a foothold in the New England’s rocky soil. Hers is a story of survival – the daily, back-breaking work to ensure food on the table, the unsettled interactions with local native tribes, the dangers of wild animals, and the endless challenges of injury, disease and death.
What was a woman’s life like in the Plymouth Colony? The Last Pilgrim will tell you.
You may also want to check out her blog https://saylingaway.wordpress.com/2020/06/11/things-i-discovered-while-researching-for-the-last-pilgrim/
This book was a labor of love for several years, and I am in awe of what the Separists – now called the Pilgrims – endured to follow their conscience and their dream. That strength and belief in God is the bedrock of this country. And they were among our first immigrants.
Mary lived to the end of the 17th century and much went on during those years. My learning curve was steep and there was much to tell.
I hope you enjoy Mary’s and my journey.