In 1650, Anne Green was hanged for supposedly killing her newborn infant. Her body was lying on a dissection table, ready to be cut open and analyzed by physicians, when several of the men in attendance noticed her eyelids fluttering. They tended to her, and Anne Green regained consciousness and lived.
This true tale is the basis for Mary Hooper’s young adult novel. The novel alternates between Anne’s recollections of her life as a lowly servant in a nobleman’s house and the observations of a young physician-in-training named Robert who witnessed her reawakening.
Anne is a teen whose employer’s grandson and heir pursues and seduces her, even though she does not care for him. His trickery leads to a pregnancy and early delivery, and the family’s connections in the legal system lead Anne to the gallows.
Reading about Anne’s unfortunate situation is a reminder of just how unfair the class system was in the 17th century — and especially unfair toward women. Teens may do well to read and compare their experiences in life today with teens of 300 years ago! However, as insightful as the novel is to the disparities of life then, it is mostly gripping for its amazing premise that a woman thought dead by hanging was able to survive. Hooper does a terrific job of holding the interest of her reader from the first page until the very end, even though the outcome is known from the outset. What an amazing and intriguing true story it is, and Hooper humanizes it further by getting inside Anne’s thoughts, rather than focusing on the side of the doctors.
Rated: Mild for about 20 uses of mild language. There are only very brief and general descriptions of sexual acts.