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Summary

Most Anticipated Books of 2020 - Vogue, Medium, LitHub

From the best-selling author of The Wives of Los Alamos comes the riveting story of a stranger’s arrival in the fledgling colony of Plymouth, Massachusetts - and a crime that shakes the divided community to its core.

Ten years after the Mayflower pilgrims arrived on rocky, unfamiliar soil, Plymouth is not the land its residents had imagined. Seemingly established on a dream of religious freedom, in reality the town is led by fervent puritans who prohibit the residents from living, trading and worshipping as they choose. By the time an unfamiliar ship, bearing new colonists, appears on the horizon one summer morning, Anglican outsiders have had enough.

With gripping, immersive details and exquisite prose, TaraShea Nesbit reframes the story of the pilgrims in the previously unheard voices of two women of very different status and means. She evokes a vivid, ominous Plymouth, populated by famous and unknown characters alike, each with conflicting desires and questionable behavior. 

Suspenseful and beautifully wrought, Beheld is about a murder and a trial, and the motivations - personal and political - that cause people to act in unsavory ways. It is also an intimate portrait of love, motherhood, and friendship that asks: Whose stories get told over time, who gets believed - and subsequently, who gets punished?

©2020 TaraShea Nesbit (P)2020 Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Critic reviews

"In a gripping retelling of the Plymouth colony’s first murder, we finally hear the voices of women - and they speak an unvarnished truth that turns history on its pointy-hatted head. Truly a riveting read. (Helen Simonson, author of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand and The Summer Before the War)

"TaraShea Nesbit's puritans are passionate and vengeful and entrancing. Part mystery, part love story, beautifully told and meticulously researched, Beheld reanimates and complicates the mythologies of America's earliest settlers. I was sad when it ended." (Anton DiSclafani, author of The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls)

"Beheld breathes fresh life into a world grown still and murky beneath the scrim of legend - rife with intrigue, fractured by difference, marked by violence, and full of haunting images. With gorgeous, period-inflected prose, Nesbit takes us back to the earliest days of New England to look through the eyes and over the shoulders of historical characters both remembered and not. I read it at a gallop. What a marvel this novel is. (Laird Hunt, author of In the House in the Dark of the Woods

What listeners say about Beheld

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  • DFK
  • 18-11-20

Very disappointing

I bought this book because the New York Times’ review was so positive. The story was OK, but not so amazing, and I have read far better books that depict the Puritan settlements in the New World. This one seems to try too hard at seeming like there is something that we don’t already know. The language itself is not impressive, and throwing in a “speaketh” and “spoketh” (I think “hath spoke” would be more likely, but never mind that) every so often does not make it any more convincing as a literary gem. But the worst is the narration. Why didn’t the narrators do any research? Don’t they know that the Pilgrims, all English, spoke like 17th century Englishmen and women and did not have some weird American accents? Where did they get the idea (one of the women, in particular) to say things like “idear” for “idea” or “lore” for “law” or pronounce “Eleanor” “Elerner”? “Virginier”?? It was also not consistent, even for the same character, so that at times I wondered - does she usually speak that way and is trying not to or the reverse (I’m pretty convinced it was put on)? “Consort” was pronounced one time as “concert”. It was so grating!! Maybe I would have enjoyed the book more with decent narration, but this was maybe the worst I have had, and I have chalked up a lot of Audible listens.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Sarah Louise
  • 28-05-20

meh... was hoping for more

It's a quiet read. Not compelling or exciting. I did finish it, so it was okay.

1 person found this helpful

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  • SB
  • 10-03-21

Strange

Not much to say about this one, except it is somewhat strange and mercifully short.

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  • TeresaAnn Elizabeth
  • 02-03-21

Excellent

This book was excellent! The narrators did a fine job. The words ending in the “er” sound surprisingly, were spoken that way by colonist from England.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • EllaG
  • 01-12-20

Very enjoyable

There's nothing especially new here, but I really enjoyed it, as the characters were well-drawn and the narration was excellent.