Fictional work based on two real Scotswomen

What You Call Free is a piece of historical fiction.

This novel is loosely based on the lives of two women, Helen Alexander and Jonet Gothskirk (who was forced to wear a ‘sackcloth’ or ‘gown of repentance’ as punishment for adultery during the period of the Covenanters).

After falling pregnant, 18-year-old Jonet seeks refuge among a group of religious dissidents with the help of widow Helen.

Johnston’s exploration of religious tensions, female oppression, and what it truly means to be ‘free’ within the context of a turbulent 17th-century Scotland, is enlightening.

What You Call Free, by Flora Johnston, published by Ringwood, £9.99.

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