Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Lost Book Of Salem by Katherine Howe

Marblehead, Massachussetts
Late December

Peter Petford slipped a long handled wooden spoon into the simmering iron pot of lentils hanging over the fire and tried to push the worry from his stomach.

Title: The Lost Book of Salem
Author: Katherine Howe
ISBN: 9780141038117
Publisher: Penguin/2009
Pages: 456

Note: This book is available in the US as The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane.

Plot summary:

Connie Godwin, a Harvard graduate student is looking forward to do research for her post-doctoral. She gets a phone call from her mother Grace to go over to Salem to check out her grandmother's House, which has not been occupied for the last twenty years. With some misgivings Connie agrees as it is summer. When she reaches Salem, she can feel something strange happening to her. The house is indeed in a bad shape, hidden by creepers and trees. However, Connie is not detered by it and manages to make it somewhat liveable. While going over the old books, Connie finds a key in a bible along with a parchment with Deliverance Dane written on it. There is a mention of some short of Almanac or Receipt or Shadow book. To know more about it, she goes around visiting old Church and the library. Meanwhile she meets Sam, who works as restorer. Her mentor in Harvard is after her to find the book and soon.

Connie wants to know what is in the book and why is her mentor so much interested in that book? And what is the common facter between Deliverance Dane and her grandma, mother and herself. How are they connected?

What did you like most about the book?

This novel is based in Salem, where witch trials took place and Deliverance Dane, was one of the accused. Even though she is a healer, she is taken to be a witch and hanged. Where myths, illiteracy, mis-information persists, such happenings are no surprise. The book moves back and forth from 1691 and 1991 effortlessly. We can see history happening and how to come in terms with it in the present.

What did you think of the writing style?

With historical facts, and folk lore, the writing style does not jar. At some point, one simply doesn't wish to put down the book. I read it four hours straight!

Which of your readers are most likely to enjoy this book? Why?

Those who wish to know more about Salem witch trials and history leading upto it will like the book. Also those readers who have read The HERectic's Daughter will love it.

What did you think of the main character?

Connie is not one to give up. She has to know who is Deliverance Dane and how is she (Connie) connected to her. She has some power but she isn't aware of those until she arrives in Marblehead.

Any other particularly interesting characters?

Connie's mother Grace is interesting too. We don't get to know her they way weknow Connie. We know her from her telephonic conversations with Connie and from connie's thoughts.

Share a favorite scene from the book:

Connie does find the book and reads it save Sam. Finally she resorts to spells to save him. A non-believer, she cannot escape her legacy and her power hitherto unknown. Also the fact that she burns the book when she realises that in the wrong hands it would do much damage.

What did you think of the ending?

Connie ends up researching about Deliverance Dane and redeem her from being an outcast.


Clare Dudman said...

Great summary, Gautami - really makes me want to read more!

Anonymous said...

How interesting that it has a different title outside the U.S.! I wonder how that sort of thing is determined!

bermudaonion said...

This sounds fascinating. I would like to know more about the witch trials, so I need to read this one.

Carrie K. said...

I am definitely reading this one - great review!

Literary Feline said...

I've been really wanting to read this one. It's such an interesting time in history. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the book!

Have a great week!

serendipity_viv said...

This is definitely one I would read. Though I think I would have picked it up just because of the cover!

Nan said...

This book sounds like one I would really enjoy. I also love the cover of this book.

Anonymous said...

I have this one on my shelf, waiting to be read.

Meghan said...

I'm glad you liked it too!

Anonymous said...

great review! I just added this book to my wishlist as it does sound like something I would read.

Serena said...

I keep hearing good things about this book. Nice review.

Anna said...

I've had my eye on this one for a while. Interesting how there are different titles.

Diary of an Eccentric

Sarah at SmallWorld said...

This sounds really good! I'm going to have to add it to my TBR.