Wednesday, September 10, 2008

the heretic's daughter

no, gentle readers, not me.

today i am once again participating in the Blog Stop Book Tour - and this time the book is a debut novel called THE HERETIC'S DAUGHTER by kathleen kent.

set in andover, massachusetts, near salem, at the time of the witch trials, the story is told from the viewpoint of one of the author's own ancestors, a ten year old girl named sarah, the daughter of thomas and martha carrier. martha carrier was one of the women hanged for witchcraft, the only one who never confessed, and went to her death protesting her innocence. thomas carrier, a fascinating man in his own right, carries some taint of a blighted past, that the discerning reader (with perhaps some knowledge of seventeenth-century history) will realize relates to the regicide of king charles i of england in 1649.

beautifully written, the story is told in heartbreakingly simple prose as befits the ten year old narrator. although this is one of the strengths of the book, it is also possibly its only flaw, because the child's limited understanding limits the reader's.

but this is a minor flaw in this marvelous story. in bits and pieces, kent weaves the ancedotes that ultimately reveals characters both sensitively and finely drawn, and shows how small things can snowball into larger things, and sometimes disaster.

the most touching aspect of the book for me personally was the relationship between martha and her daughter. strongwilled, stubborn, intelligent and never afraid to speak her mind, martha reminded me more than a little of myself (gulp.) although sarah at first misunderstands the nature of her mother's love, she comes to understand just how much her mother really loves her, when martha gives the sarah the means to save herself, even while she (martha) goes resolute to her death on the hanging tree.

ms kent has not written a light novel for the beach. instead, she has given us a novel to savor on a long slow winter's afternoon fortified with blankets, hot beverages and a roaring fire. this story is an excellent read that will stay with the reader for days after it is done. i highly recommend it.

and furthermore, the war must end. blessed be.


Walk in the Woods said...

Sounds wonderful!

I'm a slow reader ... in three of the four seasons especially! Come winter, I'll allow myself a pot of tea and time on the sofa with blanket and book . . . until then . . . it's at bedtime . . . and sadly I often find myself reading the same paragraph for several nights in a row!


Dina said...

this is the next book on my list..can't wait to pick it up. In fact I may have to put what I am reading (The Seamstress) down because I am getting a little bored with it. But I always feel guilty doing that when it is for a book club.