I reviewed this book some while ago and have come back to look at ensuing comments from time to time with great interest. I do think it curious that readers of historical fiction so very often insist on applying contemporary behavioral standards to characters who peopled a world that is so different from our own that, if suddenly transported back, most of us would find life incomprehensible.
Domestic and marital law and attitudes have changed so much in the last 100 years that even our grandmothers would seem to have lived lives of deepest deprivation in what was, in fact, a "man's world" - you can't change the past!
So, why such vituperation at Jo Beverly for daring to present characters acting out situations from another world all together with a different set of morals and code of behaviour? The castigation she has received here seems to me to be ill-conceived at best. Would these critics be so scathing if reviewing science fiction? I doubt it but there is some similarity here in reading of a world radically unlike our own. Why read historical fiction if you prefer your stories and characters to be contemporary people dressed up in historical costume?
I believe this was an excellently written, brilliantly peopled story and should be read with an eye to historical context and understanding that one is reading about a very different world which, whether we like it or not, we cannot go back and change.