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Set in seventeenth-century New England, Hope Leslie (1827) portrays early American life and celebrates the role of women in building the republic. A counterpoint to the vels of James Fenimore Cooper, it challenges the conventional view of Indians, tackles interracial marriage and cross-cultural friendship, and claims for women their rightful place in history. At the center of the vel are two friends. Hope Leslie, a spirited thinker in a repressive Puritan society, fights for justice for the Indians and asserts the independence of women. Magawisca, the passionate daughter of a Pequot chief, braves her father's wrath to save a white man and risks her freedom to reunite Hope with her long-lost sister, captured as a child by the Pequots and w married to Magawisca's brother. Amply plotted, with unforgettable characters, Hope Leslie is a rich, compelling, deeply satisfying vel.
Catharine Maria Sedgwick (1789-1867) was one of the first American women authors to gain prominence. She was born in Massachusetts, where she set several of her works. She published six novels and later wrote on domestic and social issues.