Penelope’s Song

A Seventeenth Century Tale for a Twenty-First Century World

Carol J. DeMars

Book Summary

It begins in Amsterdam, Holland when the vivacious niece of a wealthy Dutch merchant hastily marries her father’s brilliant student. The newlyweds sail across the dangerous Atlantic Ocean to one of the least desirable outposts in all of the Dutch Empire, the city of Nieuw Amsterdam, today’s Manhattan.

Meanwhile, widow Lady Moody fled England, where to a manor bred and manor wed, for a new life in Puritan Massachusetts seeking liberty of conscience. Sir Henry, her son, became a cavalier in the service of King Charles I when the land of their birth erupted in a civil war over religious and political differences. Penelope’s Song deep dives into these religious conflicts and wars in Europe and England that disrupted their lives and the Algonquian people who once thrived in the eastern woodlands of North America. Legendary New Jersey couple Richard and Penelope Stout first meet while caught in the crosshairs of violent war instigated by Dutch Director Willem Kieft against local indigenous villages. The essence of their struggles pierces the veil of that time long past to reveal the dreams and sacrifice required to ensure the freedom of religion and dignity of every individual. The story of Penelope did not end on the last page but provides a glimpse of what the world can be, a perpetual task for every generation. It is never complete but always beckons and awakens in the souls of the healers, the dreamers, the lovers, believers.

1579 – Utrecht, Holland – The Union of Utrecht signed by the United Provinces of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Gelderland, Friesland, and Groningen, Article XIII
“Each person shall remain free, especially in his religion, and that no one shall be persecuted or investigated because of their religion, as is provided in the Pacification of Ghent.” p. 5

Sir Walter Raleigh, c. 1600, “Whoever commands the trade of the world commands the riches of the world and consequently the world itself.” p. 267

“How is it that a people, a society, a country seemingly holds contrasting values in tension within the ship of state on calm and turbulent seas perhaps for decades, generations, or centuries? To be sure, change and shifts take place, an internal balance of power swings back and forth with some displacement, a vessel forever in motion seldom resting. Somehow the fabric of accommodation woven of shared and disputed values expands and contracts, but the ship remains intact and sails on. There are times, however, when deeply embedded stresses are too great, human psyches rigid, unyielding, refusing to credit the other of equally profound principles and loyalties worthy of regard. Even to spare loved ones mortal anguish and for the sake of survival as a people, they were too contentious to share the same ark.” p. 148

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