Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

By Katherine Howe

One of the hardest things for an author to do is move the reader seamlessly between to time periods - this book does it...but is it worth it?

The story of Connie - grad student in 1991 - is not really interesting. What does work for me is the house and the character of Grace (don't we all know a "new age" sensitive?). I found I was more interested in her "SteepleJack" boyfriend than in Connie.

The story of Deliverance Dane and her Physic Book is the story of the innocents lost to accusations of witch-craft. These "cunning women" were usually midwives and healers at a time when medicine and "doctors" were new in the area.

Whether it was the moldy bread or the toxic levels of leaded glazes used for cookware - people were thrown into seizures and some people died. The people of Salem believed that these witches in their midst were the cause.

What Howe brings to this oft told story is the twist that Deliverance Dane IS a witch and is appalled that these innocent women are dieing. Even when offered the opportunity to escape (because if these folks were witches how could they be held in prisons?) she stays to offer support to the women that were arrested with her.

The author, Katherine Howe, was a graduate student in New England studies...and brings her real-life family history to the table. She is a descendant of two women who endured the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, one of whom survived and one who didn't.

An interesting twist on previously published books about the Salem Witch Trials.


Ceska said...

The story has it all, intrigue, romance and history. The transitions in time only urge the reader to turn pages and manipulate the labyrinth Ms. Howe creates. Her vivid, descriptive writing is vastly detailed without being tedious or redundant. The imagery and historical detail she brings to this novel are par excellence.

UK said...

This is the story of a modern day academic accidentally discovering her family history while researching her doctorate. That may sound a little dry, but it is actually a fascinating story of modern greed and vanity combined with very interesting American history. The novel even includes a sexy romance. It is the story of strong women surviving prejudice, and the terrible effects of small mindedness and religious persecution.


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