The Marshlanders is a compelling work of environmental fiction about a green world threatened by a world of greed. It tells a gripping story about the conflict between self-sustaining communities and their enemies, who are determined to drain their wetlands for agricultural development.
Barnes & Noble.com
In Annis Pratt's The Marshlanders, which is the first novel in The Marshlanders Trilogy, Clare escapes from the shaming of her mother during a persecution of healers, and is adopted by a family of Marshlanders.
The people of her new community are joyously sensual, seek harmony with their watery landscape, and are creatively practical, always looking for new ideas about farming, irrigation, navigating, foraging, and weaving. Their enemies are sexually violent and seek to dominate nature. They pursue technology out of greed and govern by male domination and military force.
Clare's subsequent adventures and apprenticeship as a weaver make this a compelling read about how our green world is threatened to its core by a world of greed.
Dusk was full upon them, and Clare's shoulders ached, but she wasn't going to say so. If William was idiot enough to keep going after dark, she wasn't going to tell him! They came to a stretch of river filled with lots of sodden tree trunks that were barely visible in the dusk. He didn't have any warning that a thick old branch lay submerged across the river. The boat was caught by the full force of the current. They tipped and lurched sideways and weren't quick enough balancing their weight. The longboat capsized and pitched them into the river.
Clare opened her mouth to shout at William, but she swallowed water and was propelled downward as if pulled by enormously strong hands. She tried to hold her breath. Her tunic tore as a branch dug into her, but she couldn't catch hold. The current seemed much more powerful underwater, pushing and pulling her down until her lungs almost burst with her attempt not to breathe or swallow. She tried to think of a prayer, but she was too frightened of drowning.
She felt a blow against her shoulders. When she tried to move her arms to swim, she realized she was wedged in a narrow tunnel. She had run out of breath! She couldn't help opening her mouth. She didn't swallow water; she breathed air, though the current sucked her legs and her body backward. Frantically kicking, she thrashed her shoulders and inched forward. She rested briefly, gasping fetid air, then kicked and thrashed again. Maybe she was dead already and trying to escape from her coffin? But her body would have none of that, forcing itself inch by inch into the darkness until a muddy, fibrous platform supported her chin.
She couldn't see anything, but she could breathe, and her lower body had come free. She hauled herself out of the water and crouched on all fours. When she tried to stand, her head bumped a low ceiling made of the same fibrous material as the platform. She was cold down to her very bones. She'd escaped drowning, but she could freeze to death in this pitch black hollow.
She heard a very loud clicking and clacking nearby. The chattering came from something else than her own teeth. She wasn't alone! She went still all over. She had been trained for Marshland emergencies and knew she had to think hard - right now- to save herself. Her soggy, tattered uniform lay heavily on her back, which stung with scratches, so she wasn't dead. But she would be if it took her much longer to figure a way out. She sensed movement. Something dragged itself across the floor toward her. Before she could get into a defensive posture, she was pinned between two furry creatures rubbing at her from both sides. They smelled musty with an odor she remembered from riverbanks when beavers were courting. Beaver! With their enormous teeth, they could easily kill hr, but they had stopped her from shivering by settling on each side in a comforting manner.
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Reader Reviews for "The Marshlanders"
|Reviewed by Annis Pratt
Reviewed in Femspec by Kelly Van Buren
January 1, 2010
Review of The Marshlanders
Pratt, Annis. The Marshlanders NY/Bloomington, IN: iUniverse, 2010. ISBN: 978-1-4502-2890-9. 312 pp. $19.95
The Marshlanders by Annis Pratt tells a tale of violence, domination, and pure greed that threaten the livelihood of nature communities alive with a peaceful folk who dwell in the marshlands, wetlands, and coastal areas. The main characters are Clare and William, two young people unrelated to one another but who share the same enemies, similar circumstances, and become adopted by marshlanders and coastal farmers who try to provide them with refuge.
Both Clare and William face terrible tragedies during their childhood. Clare becomes estranged from her parents due to her father disappearing while enlisted in the military and her mother taken away and publicly shamed for being a healer. Clare's mother even had to succumb to labeling her daughter a changeling to fool the fanatical ministry, prompting Clare to run away to safety. William's parents are both dead, and though it is unclear at times in the book if Clare's biological parents are alive or dead, she is very much an orphan just like William.
Their enemies are an evil and sadistic group comprised of greedy merchants, domineering ministers, and violent apothecaries, as well as murderous male soldiers who work for this group of persecutors. They seek to steal the marshlanders' land for their own selfish purposes, all the while treating those they victimize as slaves to do with as they desire.
Due to Clare's poor choice of a mate, she falls prey to the oppressive control of Boris, her unfaithful lover's father and the apparent ruler of the House of Weaving, where she and others are made to be slave weavers. In this environment women are treated like sexual play-things or "strumpets," as some call them, which means "prostitutes." They were often victims of rape and other sexual assaults. However, there is hope, for in the shadows awaits an unsuspecting ally who has the power to rescue them.
Although Pratt's book is a work of fiction, it may serve well in the classroom due to the characters and subject matter echoing similar atrocities of a true historical past. History professors could use this book when assigning comparison essays to their students, as events and circumstances in the book could be compared or contrasted to actual events that took place in history, one of them being the accusation practices, the behavior of the accusers, and the persecution of those thought to be witches/heretics. The marshlanders and land folk in this book resemble Pagans and other magical people connected to nature who had been plagued, hunted, tortured and killed by domineering tyrants of a major religious group hell-bent on destroying anyone (as well as the reputation of religions) whose way of life differed from theirs. The conflicts between these different groups (in which one powerful group attacks a non-threatening harmonious group) also is reminiscent of the history between the white man and Native Americans, for it seems the victims in this story were also thought of as savages by their ruthless enemies. A comparison could even be made between the treatment of these folk with the belief or conception of how some Vikings used to pillage and rape the women in some communities during raids.
It would also serve well as reading material for English or creative writing courses. Since the book is a relatively easy read (though riveting and entertaining), I recommend it be used in lower-level college courses such as freshman or sophomore levels. It would even do well in courses previously mentioned at the high school level due to its reader friendliness, writing style, and pace.
The Marshlanders may offer insight and a perspective to a student regarding the survival and perseverance of people amidst hostile environments. It's a story of good and evil, as well as a tale of overcoming obstacles, thus possibly providing readers with the inspiration to keep going even when times in life look bleak.
BIRMINGHAM PATCH January 24, 2011
LOCAL ACTIVIST, SCHOLAR, EDUCATOR AND AUTHOR REFLECTS ON FIRST NOVEL
After spending years commuting to Wisconsin for a teaching job, Annis Pratt is happy to settle in Birmingham and enjoy her first novel.
By Megan Shaffer
For 20 years, Annis Pratt was a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. During that time, she commuted from Birmingham after settling here with her husband in 1979.Credit Megan Shaffer
Local author Annis Pratt is on the move.
Though the Birmingham resident and former college professor is now retired, she certainly doesn’t appear to be changing her pace. As a community activist, writer, facilitator, and educator, Pratt is well known for her intellectual and philosophical prowess. However, it is for her latest accomplishment as a novelist that Pratt took some time to discuss the journey toward achieving her dream.
“I wanted to be a poet and realized I couldn’t support my family being a writer,” Pratt said. “So I went off to be a college professor. Every time I changed jobs I kept trying to get back to the writer ... Being able to get to be a writer at last is really nice.”
And now, with the recent publication of her first novel The Marshlanders, Pratt is beginning to enjoy the hard-earned fruits of her labor.
Though perhaps not a poet by profession, the sweep of Pratt’s life has indeed been poetry in motion. Settling in Birmingham with her husband Henry in 1979, Pratt found herself holding a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature with no promising offers of a full-time professorship. Limited by local prospects, professor Pratt landed a job at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, resulting in a weekly Michigan commute which lasted twenty years.
Pratt admits the commute was “a terrible pain.” Yet as an English professor in Madison, she was widely known as a mover in women’s rights and women’s literature. Her writings on mythology and archetypes garnered high praise and she penned three non-fiction books in the process—Dylan Thomas' Early Prose, Dancing with Goddesses and Archetypal Patterns in Women's Fiction.
However, by 1990 Pratt had tired of academia. Tossing her full professorship to the wind, she decided to become a novelist and return to her two daughters, husband and home in Birmingham.
The Marshlanders, published in May 2010 by iUniverse, is the narrative result of Pratt’s decision and marks her first foray into fiction. More than ten years in the making, The Marshlanders is the first published volume of The Marshlander Trilogy and a true labor of love. Based on harmonious, self-sustaining communities at odds with their dystopian counterparts, Pratt believes her fiction is an opportunity to share rather than preach about ethical and environmental responsibility.
“The animals, birds, rivers ... getting the beauty of that is where my soul is. I’m talking about ideal communities.”
And ideal community is something Pratt knows plenty about. Her humble claim that she’s doing “more thinking and discussing than running around” at this point is a touch hard to believe. Despite writing “two hours a day, if not more” in addition to marketing her books, Pratt remains an integral link in the chain of community activism.
Ever the educator, the energetic author continues to teach adult education classes at the Birmingham Unitarian Church and also facilitates discussions at Baldwin Public Library’s Socrates Cafe.
But it’s not all cerebral for Pratt. She also organizes donations for the Welcome Inn Day Shelter in Royal Oak and attends local city commission meetings to advocate for public transportation.
For now though, Pratt is thrilled about The Marshlanders and is excited about the second volume in her trilogy, Fly Out of the Darkness.
Are you looking forward to reading "The Marshlanders?" Tell us in the comments.
Interested in a follow-up to this article?
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MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW November 10, 2010
(Oregon, WI USA) - The Marshlanders: Volume One of The Marshlanders Trilogy (Paperback)
As time rolls on, America's wetlands are more and more threatened. "The Marshlanders" tells the story of a clash between those who love the wetlands and their unique state and those who want to see them drained for development and other uses. A story of accepting nature and defending it against those who would defile it, "The Marshlanders" should prove to be a fascinating read with much to think about.
4.0 out of 5 stars A world imagined--, August 17, 2010
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TRAVERSE CITY RECORD-EAGLE, Books in Brief June 20,2010:TRAVERSE CITY — Annis Pratt, a Michigan author who summers on the Betsie River, has published "The Marshlanders."
The novel features characters who travel among the creatures Pratt knows from kayaking the Betsie — mink, otters, frogs, turtles, deer and birds. It's the story of conflict between self-sustaining communities and others who want to drain the wetlands for agricultural development.
Pratt's previous nonfiction books, "Archetypal Patterns in Women's Fiction" and "Dancing with Goddesses," won awards. Pratt taught English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for 20 years, commuting from Michigan each week.
"The Marshlanders" is the first of a planned trilogy and is self-published through iUniverse. It's available in paperback for $19.95 and as an e-book for $9.95. For more information, go to www.annisvpratt.com.
Four Reviews of The Marshlanders from Amazon.Com:
1. By Dr. Marjorie Taylor -
Annis Pratt has created a memorable young heroine who is determined to save her beloved Marshland in this mythic tale of the never ending struggle between advancing civilization and the natural world. The reader follows Clare on her exciting and dangerous adventures as she matures from a playful child to thoughtful woman. A truly compelling read!
2. A Great Tale, July 16, 2010
I just finished The Marshlanders and thoroughly enjoyed it!! It's a great story and so much interesting information wound into it.
3. Ms. Pratt has spun a fine web of a story and I am now fully enchanted! I hope to read the 2nd and 3rd installments soon.
Nancy A. Jones - Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Marshlanders: Volume One of The Marshlanders Trilogy (Paperback)
In "The Marshlanders", the author has created an entire, detailed world, with a look at all the difficulties and rewards of life in a pre-technical society. And some of the problems parallel those of our own times! I look forward to the rest of the trilogy!
Review for Amazon.Com in the United Kingdon, by Linda Watson
The Marshlanders by Annis Pratt is a cleverly woven tale about the interaction of two very different worlds. She draws heavily on her background knowledge of the world of the riverbank and fills her story with characters, who live in and love the natural world of the marshlands. They struggle to save their environment from the advances of those who seek to change it for monetary gain. The heroine of the story is a young girl who is thrown into a series of dangerous adventures in the quest to save the marshlands and, in this first book of the trilogy, we see her grow from childhood into womanhood. It is an enchanting story, full of much to interest the reader as well as to entertain. The author's prose style, defined by her American heritage and her career as a University Professor of English, is clear and easy to read. A Delight!
Comments from posting of Chapters One and Two of The Marshlanders on Authonomy
Neville wrote I find your book to be excellent reading.
It starts off right from the begining at a good pace, the reader being drawn into it wanting to know more.
You have a good character in Clare who comes across quite well.
A book with a different theme - pleased to back it.
Neville (The Secrets Of The Forest - Book One)
PATRICK BARRETT wrote
This is absolutely fascinating and incredibly original. My first thought was that it would qualify for the Terry Pratchett Competition ending at the end of this year. You really should look into that, £20,000 pound advance and a publishing deal. I am positive that a future awaits you and your book. Patrick Barrett (Cuthbert-how mean is my valley)
A super pitch and intro. This is simply fabulous. Historical fiction, great believable dialogue and vivid scenes . When Clare is hidden in the barn, my heart was thumping in alarm - it was very exciting. you have only posted 2 chapters here - shame I would have oved to read more. This had an amazing promise of being a great read. Pls put more chapters on and then I can read some more. I am backing you as it is one of the best excerpts I have read for a while. Good luck
THE ASSASSINS VILLAGE
Suzie Q wrote
Dear Annis, I love the songs you have put in your story - a bonus for sure. :) This must be or has happened somewhere in this world - glad I'm not there. :) Another thing to be thankful for. :) I saw a 10 year old boy hit on his bike by a car & his leg was broken above his knee & his foot was by his head, but the skin wasn't broken - I got out of my car & prayed for him & calmed him down until the ambulance came, so this your story triggered my memory of all of that. :) Great write. :) I've backed your book :) - hope you'll back my 2 memoir books. :) Thanks. :) Love, Susie :)
This is a good story. You’ve created an interesting world here; in most fantasy stories a woman who can heal would be viewed as a hero; here she’s seen as the enemy. Twists values around nicely and alerts a reader from the beginning he’s in a different than usual world. You have good characters in Clare and William; a reader can’t help but want to follow them to see if they can escape into the Marshlands and be safe. I’m happy to add this to my shelf. Burgio
This is so poignant and timely - I am sure a local publisher in Wisconsin would snatch this up in a heart beat. Excellent writing and obviously there is much time, research and passion put into this journey. Easy to back.
The Cheech Room
A good read that takes the reader straight into the action. Good, clear writing with good description, sense of place and introduces sympathetic characters. Grippingly told and very relevant to the intolerance we see today - the killing of the man with his herbs for eg. Your writing voice is natural - we forget it's you telling a story and are immediately part of the world you are conveying.
Any quibbles? Not really, just a couple of comments:
I'd sharpen up the pitch a little - make it shorter and snappier. It's also not entirely clear if its fantasy, a modern parable or a mixture. You say 'How did we get to....' as indeed we have. it could be set right here. Also, if that really is chapter one - it's tremendously long. Otherwise - apart from these personal thoughts which others probably don't agree with - I was impressed. Backed.
|Reviewed by Mr. Ed
|a compelling read about how our green world is threatened to its core by a world of greed.
Sounds like a book worth reading, especially today as our Gulf Marshlands are now horrendously being destroyed, by greed.