Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Reviews for Christy K Robinson's books

Many thanks to those who have read my books on the Dyers and have posted reviews in Amazon and Goodreads; thanks as well to those who have shared the links via social media, to the paperback and Kindle editions of the books.

This is the review by Canadian author Trudy J. Morgan-Cole:

Mary Dyer: Illuminated, by Christy K. Robinson

Mary Barrett Dyer was executed in 1660 for running afoul of the religious authorities in Colonial America (which, to be fair, wasn’t hard). If you know your Colonial America, you may know Mary Dyer’s name as a pioneer of religious liberty. She’s also an ancestor of writer Christy Robinson, who has spent the last several years researching the lives of Mary, her husband William Dyer, and the worlds in which they lived both in England and after emigrating to America.
This novel, which explores Mary’s early years, is as meticulously-researched a piece of historical fiction as I’ve read in a long time. It’s heavy on the history and light on the fiction in the sense that Robinson is not a writer who would knowingly contradict a historical fact or oversimplify the complex webs of colonial-era religion and politics. However, the fictional touch is required to bring the personal elements of the story to life, to flesh out Mary, William, and other people they knew (including Mary’s more-famous, but not martyred, friend Anne Hutchinson) into real people. Robinson does this skilfully, using everyday detail to, as the title suggests, illuminate a biographical sketch into the story of a vibrant and memorable human being. Reading this novel made me eager for the next volume, which will follow Mary through the later years of her life.

Here are some recent screenshots of other reviewers' thoughts on the book.

☼☼☼☼☼  5.0 out of 5 stars Christy weaves in excellent explanations of the nuances of the theological, July 27, 2014

By Grandpa B -

Christy has done an incredible job of bringing life in 1600s England and New England to life in her historical novel Mary Dyer Illuminated. I wish that she had written this book years ago when I was still teaching high school history classes. The depth of information that she weaves into her story-telling makes it easier for us to understand the struggles of life nearly five hundred years ago. Christy's gift includes bringing the issues of religious freedom and the rights of women to the center of her story.
For most of us, if we knew anything about Mary Barrett Dyer, our knowledge was limited to the fact that she was a Quaker who was hung in the Puritan-controlled Massachusetts Bay Colony. Her story is so much more than that, and Christy brings Mary's full story to life. Along the way, Christy weaves in excellent explanations of the nuances of the theological, political and economic issues of the day. She helps us understand the difficulties in creating a new civilization in New England. But none of this interferes with her telling Mary Dyers' story.

For those of us who have ancestors from the seventeenth century New England, Christy brings these people to life and gives us a chance to understand the issues that they faced daily. I heartily recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the issues of religious freedom and the rights of women. Those who want a better understanding of founding of the colonies in New England will also be satisfied.

☼☼☼☼☼ 5.0 out of 5 stars A most interesting and informative book.,
Anyone who has an interest in the early settlers of our country will find this book to be full of history. There were a few parts where many names were mentioned that I did not find interesting, but others probably would. The story line was extremely interesting, and to read of all those folks went through, well, you just have to read the book. I think you will enjoy it immensely.

☼☼☼☼☼ 5.0 out of 5 stars high recomendation,
June 27, 2014 By roelle seamount
I enjoy reading historical fiction. I like reading about history with an author's freedom to give me some insight to what might have been going on in a person's mind which would put meat on the story. Christy K Robinson researched her subject in depth.

☼☼☼☼ 4.0 out of 5 stars medieval history at its best.,
May 29, 2014 By bessie
This was an engaging way to learn some history. I bought the book because the author and I attended the same secondary school and connected on an alumni site. I will recommend this book to others.

☼☼☼☼☼ 5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating story and an amazing amount of history and research!,
May 25, 2014  By Darlene
This review is from: Mary Dyer Illuminated (The Dyers) (Volume 1) (Paperback)
I had never before heard of Mary Dyer, but Christy brought her to life for me in this book. Besides an appreciation of Mary Dyer herself and her commitment to her beliefs, I now also have a much clearer understanding of life and politics in the 1600's in America. Mary's story is compelling and very well written. I can't even comprehend the amount of thought and research required to put together a book like this and make it an interesting read. Wonderful job!

☼☼☼☼☼ 5.0 out of 5 stars Heart-engaging!,
March 20, 2014 By Gail Steel
Even though we know the end to Mary's story, I found myself tied to watching the events unravel with an anxious expectation. A belief worth having is one worth dying for. May we not forget the lesson taught by marrying the civil with the spiritual and appreciate the concept of freedom of conscience.

☼☼☼☼☼ 5.0 out of 5 stars  History that Impacts Everyone Now July 19, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
In Book Two, Author Christy K. Robinson once again breathes life into the characters of William and Mary Dyer as she expands the story of the start of religious liberty in the United States. Mary Dyer: For Such a Time as This, is a fascinating historical novel that brings to light the horrible persecution of people who didn't subscribe to the exact religious beliefs of those in power in the colonies of the 1630's. The Puritans, then in power in Boston, were quick to jail, whip and even destroy those who were Baptist, Quakers and/or even people of no religious beliefs. Mary Dyer's life and subsequent death shed light on their persecution and caught the attention of the Crown in England, resulting in those persecutions being ended, as well as opened the door for the subsequent separation of the powers of church and state in the Colonies, which, a hundred years later were written into our Constitution. Mary Dyer: For Such a Time as This is a must read for anyone wanting to know more about the history of the freedoms that we enjoy in the United States.

Reviews for The DYERS of London, Boston, & Newport 

☼☼☼☼☼ 5.0 out of 5 stars Liberty & Law. Honor and Loyalty. Life Goes On With Truth July 22, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
I love these books. The series of the Dyers is very interesting. I enjoy history and family history. I get both in these books. I learned so many things that I wasn't taught in history classes at school. Mary Dyer was an amazing and strong woman. Her death was tragic and so unnecessary. I am so ashamed of the people who caused her death. She did not as far as I am concerned. Our personal liberties are so important. I am proud that she stood up with hers. The separation of church and state as explained through Mary's story is so different from what we are told in public schools. Maybe that is why I am an elected official at the Ramsey Conservation District in Minnesota as well as an ordained Minister. I hope that Mary finds pride in that. I am looking forward to many more books in this series. They are a wealth of information and pure enjoyment. The books are fairly think but once I started. I didn't want to put it down. I take mine every where and read whenever I get a chance. They are definitely full of mystery, intrigue and facts.

☼☼☼☼☼  5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful ! July 21, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Christy K Robinson's non fiction book about Mary Dyer and her family is an excellent edition to her historical novels , Mary Dyer Illuminated, and Mary Dyer, For Such A Time As This. Mary's extraordinary life and her contribution to the adaptation of our Bill of Rights is thoroughly explored by Ms. Robinson, who also happens to be her descendant. If you are a fan of 17th century history like me, and thought you knew Mary Dyer's incredible story, think again. This is a must read for fans of both nonfiction biographies and historical novels. Mary was an exceptionally intelligent, eloquent, and brave woman, and a light in the midst of a dark time in what would eventually become American history.

☼☼☼☼☼ 5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommend!,
January 1, 2012 By Nancy Boyce
This review is from: We Shall Be Changed: A Devotional from Quiet Hour Ministries (Hardcover)
If you feel rushed & harried by today's hectic, demanding lifestyle, this is the daily devotional book for you! It's an easy read, just spiritual enough to inspire you but not so theologically involved as to make you want to skim over its pages without investing in their messages! The author was skilled at combining humor, inspiration, and hope with God's word. I highly recommend! Its so affordable you can buy a copy for yourself, your family members, and your cherished friends.

☼☼☼☼ 4.0 out of 5 stars We Shall Be Changed: A Devotional,
December 31, 2011 By Carol Driver
This review is from: We Shall Be Changed: A Devotional from Quiet Hour Ministries (Hardcover)
At first I thought okay I am going to read as a favor to the author. But after I started to read it, I was no longer reading it because I had to but because I wanted to. This book really spoke to my heart and by reading it I truly felt that I had been changed in someway. Thank you for this book!

☼☼☼☼☼ 5.0 out of 5 stars we shall be changed,
December 27, 2011 By PCA
This review is from: We Shall Be Changed: A Devotional from Quiet Hour Ministries (Hardcover)
I was looking for really different and I found it in this book. It kept me turning the pages and made me look at things differently. I would recommend it to others.

☼☼☼☼☼ 5.0 out of 5 stars We Shall Be Changed,
☼☼☼☼☼ March 16, 2011 By Henry Miller
This review is from: We Shall Be Changed: A Devotional from Quiet Hour Ministries (Hardcover)
The daily devotionals were powerful, authentic, and applicable to today's living. Although all of the contributers have written useful devotinals, and it is well edited. The ones which Ms. Robinson personally wrote are truly outstanding. I highly recommend this accessable and relevant collectin of devotionals.

☼☼☼☼☼ 5.0 out of 5 stars Change and a sense of Humor,
January 16, 2011 By Madeline Hamilton
This review is from: We Shall Be Changed: A Devotional from Quiet Hour Ministries (Hardcover)
This is a book that I will use year after year and it is on point with me every day...I get food for my soul alone with a little laughter as well... life is worth living when I see I am not alone there is others that have their trials as well...I will order another and send it to my sister Shelli...

 Where to order the paperback books or Kindle e-books: http://amzn.to/PPEWMk 

Thanksgiving in New England--no parties or football

© 2013 Christy K Robinson

This article is copyrighted. Copying, even to your genealogy pages, is prohibited by US and international law. You may "share" it with the URL link because it preserves the author's copyright notice and the source of the article.  
All rights reserved. This book or blog article, or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

The Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony grew tobacco and brewed their own beer. So did the Puritan settlers of Boston, Salem, and the many new towns that dotted Massachusetts, Connecticut, Long Island, and Rhode Island. There was a “tobacco house” on the Dyer farm in Rhode Island. 

Gov.  John Winthrop of Massachusetts Bay and his son John of Connecticut dispensed medicines, some of which were made with “aqua vitae,” also known as whiskey.

Gov. Winthrop, the father, had smoked tobacco until the late 1620s, then gave it up, cold turkey, as a sacrifice to God: he didn't want such a pleasant intoxicated feeling to interfere with his ascetic life before God. Winthrop also stopped the custom of toasting at his own table because it had overtones of pagan libations to the gods.

The Puritans loved their recreation (fishing, hunting, military exercises), but they didn't play football (soccer/kickball). At the time, English football was on par with the Afghan game of goat-head-polo! The teams of young men would kick a leather ball through village streets, down gullies, across hilltops, through fields of food crops--destroying everything, including one another, in their path to gain possession of the ball.

However, we can be quite sure that the Puritans did not hang around in a mixed-gender party boat, wearing undershirts, with the women showing cleavage and uncovered hair.

Here’s an article posted in this blog in 2012 about how New Englanders celebrated Thanksgiving in the early colonial years:  http://marybarrettdyer.blogspot.com/2012/11/how-english-colonists-celebrated.html

And this article shows some of the recipes for foods that would have been eaten in England at the same time period.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Christy K Robinson is author of these sites:  

and of these books:

·          We Shall Be Changed (2010)
·          Mary Dyer Illuminated (2013)
·          Mary Dyer: For Such a Time as This (2014)
·          The Dyers of London, Boston, & Newport (2014)
·          Effigy Hunter (2015)
·          Anne Marbury Hutchinson: American Founding Mother (2018)


Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Bay Psalm Book, sung in the key of H-sharp

© 2013 Christy K Robinson

In New England, where the Dyers lived after 1635, there were no church organs—organs being related to the hated Catholic mass, and drawing attention away from God and to the skills of the performer. At Sabbath meetings of the Massachusetts Bay churches, they sang psalms without musical accompaniment.

Rev. John Cotton, Teacher of the Boston First Church of Christ (Congregational), disapproved of (though did not completely disavow) the use of instruments in worship.  Cotton said about music:
“We also grant that any private Christian who hath a gifte to frame a spirituall song may both frame it and sing it privately for his own private comfort and remembrance of some speciall benefit or deliverance. Nor doe we forbid the use any instrument therewithal: so that attention to the instrument does not divert the heart from attention to the matter of the song.”

He’s speaking of music composition and musical accompaniment in a private setting, not in public worship at the meetinghouse. At the meetinghouse, it was strictly a capella for many decades.

In 1640, three ministers published the first book in the American colonies: a psalter called The Bay Psalm Book that they approved for use in the churches of Massachusetts Bay. It was a text of psalms in rhyme, translated from Hebrew, without musical notation because almost no one was musically literate.

The three principal authors were Rev. Richard Mather (a very conservative Puritan minister), Rev. John Eliot (best known for his missionary work with Native Americans), and Rev. Thomas Weld (who wrote the lurid introduction to Gov. Winthrop’s book on Anne Hutchinson’s theology—the description of Mary Dyer’s “monster” baby, and he established the child-labor trafficking  scheme).

Rev. Cotton wrote in the 1647 tract, Singing of Psalms as a Gospel Ordinance,
“Wee lay downe this conclusion for a Doctrine of Truth. That singing of Psalms with a lively voyce is an holy Duty of God’s worship now in the dayes of the New Testament. When we say, singing with lively voyce, we suppose none will so farre misconstrue us as to thinke wee exclude singing with the heart; for God is a Spirit: and to worship him with the voice without the spirit were but lip-labour, which (being rested in) is but lost labour (Isa. xxix.13), or at most profiteth but little (Tim. iv. 8). But this wee say. As wee are to make melody in our hearts, so in our voyces also. In opposition to this there be some Anti-psalmists who doe not acknowledge any singing at all with the voyce in the New Testament, but onely spirituall songs of joy and comfort of the heart in the word of Christ.”
Like the subject and writing style of this article?
You'll love this Kindle book of 17th-century
life and times surrounding William and Mary Dyer,
written by Christy K Robinson, author of
this blog.


In a short time, congregations forgot the tunes, and each singer sang in his or her own key, melody, and rhythm. (Perhaps something like a “Happy Birthday” cacophony today.)

Thomas Walter wrote at the end of the 17th century: "The tunes are now miserably tortured and twisted and quavered, in some churches, into a medly of confused and disorderly voices. Our tunes are left to the mercy of every unskillful throat to chop and alter, to twist and change... No two men in the Congregation quaver alike or together, it sounds in the ear of a good judge like five hundred different tunes roared out at the same time with perpetual interferings with one another." Source: Puritans at Play: Leisure and Recreation in Colonial New England, by Bruce C. Daniels, p. 54.

If you'd like to see a digital copy of the Bay Psalm Book, go to this link: https://www.wdl.org/en/item/2834/view/1/29/

Read more: 
Let Bidding Begin for the Bay Psalm Book From 1640

Published: November 15, 2013  

David N. Redden recited the opening of the 23rd Psalm the way he had memorized it as a child: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.”

Then he opened a weathered little book and read the version it contained: “The Lord to mee a ∫hepheard is, want therefore ∫hall not I. Hee in the fold∫ of tender-gra∫∫e, doth cau∫e mee downe to lie.”

Those lines were in a volume published in Massachusetts in 1640 that amounted to the Puritans’ religious and cultural manifesto. It was the first book printed in the colonies, and the first book printed in English in the New World. The locksmith who ran the hand-operated press turned out roughly 1,700 copies. The one in Mr. Redden’s hands is one of only 11 known to exist.

Mr. Redden, who is the chairman of Sotheby’s books department and has auctioned copies of Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence, among other historic and valuable documents, will sell that copy on Nov. 26. Sotheby’s expects it to go for $15 million to $30 million, which would make it the most expensive book ever sold at auction — more expensive than a copy of John James Audubon’s “The Birds of America” that sold in December 2010 for $11.54 million (equivalent to $12.39 million in 2013 dollars), the current record. That beat the $7.5 million ($10.77 million today) paid for a copy of Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” at Christie’s in London in 1998, and the $6.16 million ($8.14 million today) paid for Shakespeare’s First Folio at Christie’s in New York in 2001.

But the Bay Psalm Book, as it is known, has a special place in bibliophiles’ hearts, so much so that Michael Inman, the curator of rare books at the New York Public Library, said the auction was “likely” to set a record, even though the Bay Psalm Book was “not a particularly attractive book” and was “rather shoddily done.” (The library owns one of the other 10 copies.)

“It’s what that book symbolizes,” Mr. Inman said. “These 11 copies symbolize the introduction of printing into the British colonies, which was reflective of the importance placed on reading and education by the Puritans and the concept of freely available information, freedom of expression, freedom of the press. All that fed into the revolutionary impulse that gave rise to the United States.”

In its way, experts say, the Bay Psalm Book laid the groundwork for famous texts of the Revolution like Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense.” It followed the first Gutenberg Bibles by more than a century and a half, and it was plagued by spelling problems. The word “psalm,” which is supposed to appear in capital letters at the top of each page, is spelled that way on the left-hand pages, but on the right-hand pages and on the title page, there is an “e” on the end:
“The WHOLE Booke of Psalmes Faithfully TRANSLATED into ENGLISH Metre.”
The volume also has a subtitle, as important to a religious book in the 17th century as to a 21st-century best-seller: “Whereunto is prefixed a di∫cour∫e declaring not only the lawfullne∫∫, but al∫o the nece∫∫ity of the heavenly Ordinance of ∫inging ∫cripture P∫alme∫ in the Churche∫ of God.”

The other copies are all held in libraries or museums. The Library of Congress has one. So does Harvard. So does Yale. And one copy made its way to the place the Puritans had fled — to England, and the Bodleian Library at Oxford University.

The copy being sold by Sotheby’s, which the auction house will display in New York on Monday, belongs to Old South Church in Boston, whose long history includes the baptism of Benjamin Franklin when he was a day old. Old South became known as a meeting place for angry colonists before the Boston Tea Party and, more recently, as the church at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

The Bay Psalm Book was printed on a press that had been sent over with 240 pounds of paper and one case of type. Like Mr. Inman, Mr. Redden said the workmanship was amateurish — it was, after all, the first book published in the colonies and only the third item to come off the press. “They were kind of learning on the job,” Mr. Redden said, and some of the pages were bound in the wrong order. At the bottom of one, someone wrote, “Turn back a leaf.”
A version of this article appears in print on November 16, 2013, on page A14 of the New York edition of the New York Times with the headline: For First Book Printed in English in New World, Let the Bidding Begin.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Blog-hopping on behalf of the Dyers

Surrounding the releases of my novels (print and e-book) and nonfiction e-book on William and Mary Dyer, I've been writing guest articles for other authors' blogs.

Here are the links, which I'll edit and refresh as needed.

Hoydens and Firebrands, a blog about the 17th century, hosts my article, A mystery cloaked in the obvious, about Mary Dyer's letter to the General Court on October 26, 1659. Click this link:   http://hoydensandfirebrands.blogspot.com/2014/01/a-mystery-cloaked-in-obvious.html

Jo Ann Butler's Rebel Puritan website has an interview about the motivation and research for the novels and the nonfiction book, The Dyers of London, Boston, & Newport. Find out what distinguishes this telling of the Dyer tale, from books and articles that have gone before. Click this link:  

Christy English's blog, "A Writer's Life," carried my passionate plea for historical fiction readers to STOP in the seventeenth century, as they rush from medieval to Tudor to Regency novels. I gave lots of humorous and quirky factoids about the world the Dyers lived in. Click this link:

Christy English also posted her 5/5-star review of Mary Dyer Illuminated. Click this link: