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Avatar for EmilyEm EmilyEm said:
I liked the genealogical aspects of this multi- layered historical fiction, watching Connie unravel the mystery of her grandmother’s house and what she finds there. Sometimes I was reminded of one of my favorite literary mysteries, A. S. Byatt’s ’Possession.’ It’s not that good, but a great debut piece of fiction for Howe, even if it gets a little Harry Potter-ish, well, Hermione Granger-ish and predictable at the end
posted Oct 4, 2009 at 7:49PM
Avatar for KaliO KaliO said:
The Salem witch trials hold great appeal for fiction writers. Author Katherine Howe is a historian whose family has direct ties to Salem in 1692, and Howe uses that real history to cement her story in fascinating fact. But she begins in 1991 with Connie Godwin, a young historian working on her doctorate at Harvard. Connie is remarkably bright and determined to be a success in her chosen field—but first she has to fulfill certain family obligations, like getting her grandmother’s messy house ready for sale. Sifting through the rubble of a well-lived life in the attic, Connie finds a key and a scrap of paper with the words “Deliverance Dane” written on it. Connie doesn’t know what this means—yet—but the reader does, because Connie’s story has been alternating with chapters set in Salem, Massachusetts, during the notorious witchcraft trials. Deliverance Dane is one of the townswomen accused of witchcraft as well as the author of a “physick book” that contains both home remedies and magic spells. Ever the good historian, Connie senses an ancient mystery and becomes an academic detective, though her research is both helped and hindered by her New Age-y mother, handsome new boyfriend with a romantic job (he builds church steeples), and a professor who piles on the pressure and may or may not have some sinister motives for doing so. Meanwhile, back in 1692, Deliverance Dane is getting an all-too-intimate view of the witch hunt hysteria. A breezy page turner packed with the author’s historical know-how, a suspenseful literary mystery, and a richly detailed historical portrait all rolled into one, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane has a sense of history, mystery, and humor that readers will find hard to resist.
posted Feb 19, 2010 at 6:56PM
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