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Folger Book Club: Beheld

Our November book club discussion looks at the first recorded murder in the Plymouth colony.

Booking and details

Dates Thu, Nov 9, 2023, 6:30pm

Venue Folger Virtual

Tickets Free, Registration required

Duration 6:30pm - 8:00pm (ET)

Registration for this session will open October 10 at 4pm with early access for Folger Members.

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Our November 2023 Pick

by TaraShea Nesbit

From the bestselling author of The Wives of Los Alamos comes the riveting story of a stranger’s arrival in the fledgling colony of Plymouth, Massachusetts—and a crime that shakes the divided community to its core.

Ten years after the Mayflower pilgrims arrived on rocky, unfamiliar soil, Plymouth is not the land its residents had imagined. Seemingly established on a dream of religious freedom, in reality the town is led by fervent puritans who prohibit the residents from living, trading, and worshipping as they choose. By the time an unfamiliar ship, bearing new colonists, appears on the horizon one summer morning, Anglican outsiders have had enough.

With gripping, immersive details and exquisite prose, TaraShea Nesbit reframes the story of the pilgrims in the previously unheard voices of two women of very different status and means. She evokes a vivid, ominous Plymouth, populated by famous and unknown characters alike, each with conflicting desires and questionable behavior.

Suspenseful and beautifully wrought, Beheld is about a murder and a trial, and the motivations—personal and political—that cause people to act in unsavory ways. It is also an intimate portrait of love, motherhood, and friendship that asks: Whose stories get told over time, who gets believed—and subsequently, who gets punished?

Why did we choose this?

The Folger Shakespeare Library’s collection explores not only Shakespeare’s life and works, but also the plays’ historical context, source material, critical and performance histories, and the ways in which they inspire and are adapted by contemporary novelists.

As November brings with it the celebration of Thanksgiving, Beheld offers a different exploration of the Plymouth colony. The story of the colony’s first recorded murder, Nesbit’s novel explores how the truth can be affected by perspective through the interwoven narratives of two women from contrasting social classes.

About the Book Club

Our informal Book Club is free and open to all. Our picks range from historical fiction to adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays, encompassing a wide variety of genres—all sourced from a different local, independent bookstore partner each month.

Each session begins with a guest speaker exploring that month’s pick and highlighting items from the Folger collection related to the plot and themes of the novel. After the presentation, participants will be broken into smaller groups for breakout discussions, moderated by a team of staff and volunteers.

Content transparency

Beheld includes references to potentially sensitive subjects. Expand below for a full list of content.

Guest Speaker

Rachel B. Dankert

Rachel B. Dankert

We would like to thank the following organizations for their generous support of this program

Capitol Hill Community Foundation
Junior League of Washington