This is how historical fiction should be done. This story of one of the women arrested and executed during the Salem Witch Trials is taut and suspense...moreThis is how historical fiction should be done. This story of one of the women arrested and executed during the Salem Witch Trials is taut and suspenseful. I highly recommend this book.(less)
This novel wants to be an Alison Weir book, but falls just sh...moreMeh. I almost quit reading this book so I could get to my reread of Flowers in the Attic.
This novel wants to be an Alison Weir book, but falls just short. The history of it was interesting; I already know a decent amount about that time period from reading about the Tudor era. However, the main character comes across like a modern woman with modern sensibilities who has been dropped into a historical novel. As another Goodreader commented, she acts as though she is surprised to be married off to a foreign noble, then surprised that he cheats on her, etc. Surely the historical Juana was better prepared for her role.
The unfortunate result of making the protagonist so foreign to the world around her is that I could never tell how much history was actually involved in the telling. How much could I believe? According to the epilogue, it sounds like the author did a lot of research, and some of the most fascinating bits of the book are based on historic fact.
I liked a lot of things about this book. I liked the descriptions of the nursing relationship between Mattie and her own son, and between her and Lisb...moreI liked a lot of things about this book. I liked the descriptions of the nursing relationship between Mattie and her own son, and between her and Lisbeth. I liked the way that the relationship between Lisbeth and Mattie is developed, and I liked the fact that Mattie and her family escaped to the north without the novel turning into a vicious slave hunt. I'm glad that the narrative stuck with the relationship between the women -- and honestly, I think that the author illustrates some of the more subtle cruelties of slavery by doing so. I also appreciated the fact that the author dealt with the open secret of slave-owners raping their slaves. Women in southern society had to learn this information at some point -- what was their reaction? How often did they speak out and how often where they silently complicit? I was glad that the author explored this topic.
I have a few criticisms of the book, but they are minor -- at a few points in the book, the author drops in a line that seems revealing or ominous, but the thought is never really followed-up on.
The only real problem I had with the book was the notion that Lisbeth discovers her betrothed raping a slave... at her engagement party? I can understand that the author didn't want her to be married already, so she had an escape hatch, and I understand that it might have been challenging to find a plot device that brings Lisbeth into a scene where a rape is occuring, AND I agree that her fiance is a big asshole, but is he really such a big moronic, horny asshole that he couldn't find some more convenient time to go a-raping? I had trouble suspending my disbelief a little bit for that one.