The Salty Rose
A historical fiction by Beth M. Caruso
Marie du Trieux, a tavern keeper with a salty tongue and a heart of gold, struggles as she navigates love and loss, Native wars, and possible banishment by authorities in the unruly trading port of New Amsterdam, an outpost of the Dutch West India Company.
In New England, John Tinker, merchant and assistant to a renowned alchemist and eventual leader of Connecticut Colony, must come to terms with a family tragedy of dark proportions, all the while supporting his mentor’s secret quest to find the Northwest Passage, a desired trading route purported to mystically unite the East with the West.
As the lives of Marie and John become intertwined through friendship and trade, a search for justice of a Dutch woman accused of witchcraft in Hartford puts them on a collision course affecting not only their own destinies but also the fate of colonial America.
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The Director General slammed the gavel down with the harsh thud of an ending.
“Marie du Trieux, you are hereby banished from New Netherland forever!” he said.
As I held on to the railing of a departing schooner, I remembered the jarring finality of those stark words against me. Looking back one last time at my town, a little place in the wilderness that had grown up with me—I longed to stay in the home where I gave birth to all my children, the location of my loves and of my losses.
This is the best place to begin recounting the story of how I played a part in the transition from Dutch New Amsterdam to English New York, my dear granddaughter.
I suppose the English will have their own tales to tell about the events that transpired but I want you to know my personal and secret version of the history of my beloved city before I am gone.
Having left New Amsterdam for the first time on that cold winter day in 1664, I felt unsettled, not quite believing that the time for my departure had finally come. Where had the time gone? How quickly had it passed? It had been nearly forty years since I first set foot on the shores of Manhattan with my mother, father, and little brother.
The view from our vessel, The Morning Star, was unrecognizable from the one my family saw many decades earlier. We had arrived to nothing but marsh, forest, and a few Indian canoes that approached our ship in greeting and curiosity. It’s easy to recall my excitement as a young girl of flowing dark hair seeing the Natives for the first time when we reached these shores many years ago.
But at the point of my expulsion, I wasn’t an adventurous, naïve child anymore. A mature and defiant woman who had faced her share of hardship and disappointment had taken her place. The Council of New Netherland and Director General Stuyvesant had told me they were finished with my repeated offenses and had given the order for banishment. I’d been in trouble with the authorities far too often they said. They’d insisted that my tavern be closed.
“So this is how it must end,” I uttered in disbelief to my son Pierre, your uncle, as we huddled together on deck.
An Interview with Beth Caruso
-What inspired you to become a writer?
Shortly after moving to Windsor, Connecticut, I discovered through a neighbor that a Windsor woman, Alice ‘Alse’ Young, was the first person to hang for witchcraft in the American colonies on May 26th, 1647. Townspeople accused her of witchcraft during a deadly epidemic. I was shocked and outraged never having heard of Alice Young or her plight which took place forty-five years before the Salem Witch Trials even began. Young’s witchcraft case became the incendiary spark that started all of the other New England witch trials!
I needed to know more about what happened to Alice Young. To be content with the few long-held assumptions about her did no justice to her suffering. I embarked on a years-long effort to research old historical records and what I discovered evolved into a remarkable story that had never been told. Had it not been for Alice Young, I may never have started down the path to be an author. Until that point in time, I merely mused about writing historical novels in a distant and nebulous future. But Alice and those who loved her beckoned me and would not let go. I simply had to tell her story. I’m so glad I did. One of Windsor: The Untold Story of America’s First Witch Hanging was published in October of 2015. It continues to raise awareness about the lesser-known Connecticut witch trials. The Salty Rose combines a continuation of that story after Alice’s death and, within that tale, introduces a new story pertaining to the downfall of New Netherland including the actions of tavern keeper Marie du Trieux.
-If you could visit your book’s world for a day, what one thing would you do?It’s so difficult to decide! I’d have to visit Winthrop’s alchemy lab in New London, meeting both him and John Tinker before we left on a morning boat excursion to New Netherland. We’d pass through Hellsgate before the channel was dredged. I’d observe early America before massive development and explore the life of different tribespeople both on our route and those trading in New Amsterdam. I would talk to both men about alchemy and their plans for the New World until we reached New Amsterdam (present-day New York). There, we would walk the streets, visit markets, and finish our day at the tavern of Marie du Trieux.
-Which of your characters would you go out for drinks with?As stated above, I’d visit the tavern of Marie du Trieux and have a drink with her and get to know her better. I’d tell her about her great grandchildren, my sons. However, I would want John Tinker to be there as well. I would beg him to fill me in on more details from the Connecticut Witch Trials, especially regarding the case of Alice ‘Alse’ Young, which he knew well.
-You’re in a tavern, and a dwarf challenges you to a duel. What do you do?First of all, I’d probably laugh at him, not because he’s a dwarf, but because the notion of me dueling is so ridiculous. Then, I’d treat him to a drink and try to engage him in a conversation about why he wanted a duel with me in the first place. I’d also really be interested to know about his origins and dwarf culture.
-Is there a genre you could never write? Which and why?I find science fiction with things like robots, technology, and engineering to be so unrelatable that it would be impossible for me to write in that genre. My mind doesn’t work that way.
About Beth Caruso
Award-winning author, Beth M. Caruso, is passionate to discover and convey important and interesting stories of women from earlier times. She recently won the literary prize in Genre Fiction (2020) from IPNE (Independent Publishers of New England) for her most recent novel The Salty Rose: Alchemists, Witches & A Tapper In New Amsterdam (2019). The Salty Rose is Beth’s second historical novel and explores alchemy in early colonial times, an insider’s view of the takeover of the Dutch colony of New Netherland, and the Hartford Witch Panic with information she gathered from previous and ongoing research. Beth’s first historical novel is One of Windsor: The Untold Story of America’s First Witch Hanging (2015), a novel that tells the tale of Alice ‘Alse’ Young and the beginnings of the colonial witch trials. She based the story on original research she did by exploring early primary sources such as early Windsor land records, vital statistics, and other documents. She lives in Connecticut with her family. Beth kayaks and gardens to unwind.
Beth M. Caruso will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.