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Jane Elton, orphaned as a young girl, goes to live with her aunt Mrs. Wilson, a selfish and overbearing woman who practices a repressive Calvinism. In their rural New England village, Jane grows up yearning to break free from Mrs. Wilson's tyranny and find her place as a citizen of the evolving American Republic. She is helped by her encounters with characters who embody various shadings of moral, religious, and civic virtue: the affectionate servant Mary Hull, a pious Methodist; Mr. Lloyd, a kind Quaker; Crazy Bet, emotional, sympathetic, but deeply unstable; and Old John, bereaved but wise. Ultimately, A New-England Tale is about the connection between parenting and governing, and the key role women play in shaping a fledgling nation.
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