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Group Read Book Discussions > Heretic's Daughter *spoilers possible*

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message 1: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2533 comments Mod
I know we cant discuss the book without SOME spoilers but let's not try to discuss the ending in this thread until later on in the month. Just to keep it fresh and meaningful for those who are reading it still.
That said....

1) What did you think of the book or do you think of it if you are now reading it?
2) Thoughts on first time author Kathleen Kent's work and style?
3) What did you wish had been examined more or left out in the book... if anything?


message 2: by Holli (new)

Holli 1. I thought the book was good with some things and not so good for others. I think I was expecting something different than what it was and had I known it was more about the life and times of the Salem Witch Trial period and not about the actual trials I would have liked it more. I read the whole book and I enjoyed reading it....the descriptiveness of her writing is wonderful...i just wanted something different.

2. I think that for a first time author this was outstanding! She has a way of making you feel like you are right there in the 1600's, living that way of life. I loved that aspect of the novel and what she got into with how the hysteria developed was good.

3. I would have liked this book more had it been written from the POV of Martha..I was wanting more of the adult side of it all. I wanted more of the trial and to actually see that in the story and more of how the actual accused felt.....more on what was in the journal....basically just more "Martha" and less Sarah.


message 3: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 3069 comments 1. I loved this book. I thought it was well written and I couldn't wait to get home from work and curl up for the evening with it. I was sad when it ended. I thought the beginning was slow but I pushed on. I especially liked the fact that Kent was writing about her own family.

2. I am looking forward to Kent's next book. I hope she doesn't become a one time wonder. I also think it is unusual that we are reading two books this month by first time authors. Weird huh?

3. I think Holli should write to Kent about her idea. This way book two could be from Martha's viewpoint. It would make a great story. I was amazed about the jail part. I had no idea about that and I wanted to learn more.


Bloomin’ChickJo (bloominchick) 1. I really liked this book, especially from around page 170 on. Even though it built slowly, I realize that may have been done so you get a clear impression of what that time period was like, the isolation, the tension, the hardship, the repression - especially for women. By the time I got to page 170 I could feel the aprehension of what was coming. I think it's one of the most honestly written pieces I've read about the lesser talked about Salem Jail and what went on there during the trials. (So much focuses on the trials). It's not sugar coated (in my opinion) and for that I feel it's an extremely valuable read & perhaps should be required reading in high school.

2. For a 1st novel, this is an amazing accomplishment. The years of research she did come through in an engaging way and her style is such that you don't feel as though your just reading a sterile account.

3. Like Holli, I wasn't fully satisfied with it being from Sarah's point of view, especially up until around page 170. I though it would have been better to do it from both Martha & Sarah's pov's to have a more well rounded story.

I didn't like the end. I felt it was rushed & vague, not in keeping with the rest of the novel.


Bloomin’ChickJo (bloominchick) What I forgot to mention is that this brought home (again) the horrors of a terrifying time in human history that we need not forget, especially as women since this was basically a women's holocaust of sorts (don't forget the Hysteria started in Europe and was far worse there). This book really made me think - if I were alive then, would I have been one of the accused or would I hve been one of the accusers?


message 6: by KrisT (last edited Feb 01, 2009 04:41PM) (new)

KrisT | 553 comments 1) What did you think of the book or do you think of it if you are now reading it?

I loved this book and I think I gave it 4.5/5 stars.I liked the story coming from Sarah's pov and I doubt we would have gotten this story in this way from Martha. The same was true for me in the story Atonement where it was told in Brionne's pov, a childs perspective is going to give you a different side. In THD I felt we were able to see the confusion and emotional trauma from a young child. She was able to give us the family differences in her aunt and uncle also. The insight to her brothers and little sister, even her father and at times the very poignant mother/daughter perspective.

2) Thoughts on first time author Kathleen Kent's work and style?
Wonder first effort. I was surprised really. I didn't want to put the book down nor did I think it was slow.

3) What did you wish had been examined more or left out in the book... if anything?
I do want to know more about the actual trials and might have to rent The Crucible to watch after I read it in the future. But for me this book was a kind of gem in that we saw inside the prison. Horrific!
Because someone mentioned this being based on Kent's family I want to know more about that.
Oh and I was surprised at the number of men accused of being Warlocks...didn't know that about the Salem Witch Trials. (but then I don't know much about that time)



Bloomin’ChickJo (bloominchick) KrisT, both men & women were accused & convicted & executed for being witches, practicing witchcraft or practicing magick during the Hysteria, first in Europe then here. The # of men was far greater than that of the women. (Really, no one was safe from being accused during those times).

Another point I'd forgotten to make above was that knowing Kathleen based this novel on being a relative (descendant) of Martha Carrier, I would like to have known more about that aspect, perhaps in an afterward or even incorporated into the novel itself, weaving current times w/the past. (Maybe the soft cover addition will include an interview!)


Bloomin’ChickJo (bloominchick) KrisT, both men & women were accused & convicted & executed for being witches, practicing witchcraft or practicing magick during the Hysteria, first in Europe then here. The # of men was far greater than that of the women. (Really, no one was safe from being accused during those times).

Another point I'd forgotten to make above was that knowing Kathleen based this novel on being a relative (descendant) of Martha Carrier, I would like to have known more about that aspect, perhaps in an afterward or even incorporated into the novel itself, weaving current times w/the past. (Maybe the soft cover addition will include an interview!)


message 9: by Lynlee4 (new)

Lynlee4 | 99 comments 1) What did you think of the book or do you think of it if you are now reading it? This book had me hooked from the beginning. I really liked that it was from Sarah's pov, I thought it was a very unusual take. I liked looking in on the relationship between mother and daughter through the child's eyes and to see how the relationship changed through time with Sarah.

2) Thoughts on first time author Kathleen Kent's work and style? Like everyone else, I appreciate all the research she must have done and look forward to reading more by her.

3) What did you wish had been examined more or left out in the book... if anything? I didn't want the book to end-wanted to know more of what happened next and more of what was in the red book. LOVE Holli and Meg's idea for a second book with Martha's pov!


message 10: by Holli (new)

Holli After reading all of your comments here I also want to add that i did appreciate the book from Sarah's POV and liked it for that....I personally was just expecting a book written from Martha's POV so I was disappointed in that respect. I agree about your point up there KrisT in your answer to #1 and how her POV gave us all of that insight with the family. I did like that but went into thinking it was going to be a different sort of book I think.

I will try to write to the author and see what she has to say about that idea Meg! Why not? It couldn't hurt right? lol

Jo...you had a some very wonderful points to make up there and I thought your answers were very incisive. Thank you!




Bloomin’ChickJo (bloominchick) Why thank you Holli!

I was also going to say that I appreciated Sarah's pov but felt we never get to know... more, certain things, as a result and it would've been great to have Martha's pov included or an afterword by Kathleen/some present day inclusion to perhaps make it more well rounded.

It would be great if Kathleen did a non fiction follow up to this about what the stories in her family are that have been passed down, how she's related to Martha, how she felt being related to her before the research & after, the research process, etc..


message 12: by Beth (new)

Beth 1) What did you think of the book or do you think of it if you are now reading it?
I loved this book and recommended it to my in-person book club to read.

2) Thoughts on first time author Kathleen Kent's work and style?
I'm amazed at how accomplished a writer Kathleen Kent is in her first published book. I expect her future books to be just as powerful or more so.

3) What did you wish had been examined more or left out in the book... if anything?
Like Jo, I wish the author had gone into her family history a little more, talking about the future generations after the children mentioned in the book.

In the light of present-day events such as Abu-Graib and the definition of and debates about the effectiveness of torture, this is a very timely book that is terrifyingly relevant to today. There are still people in power in various countries around the world today who twist superstitions, religious beliefs, and mass hysteria to support their own greedy goals.


message 13: by KrisT (new)

KrisT | 553 comments I wanted to read about Kathleen Kent's family more so I will put a link to this interview. It really is interesting and I love that she researched this so much in addition to her family history.

http://www.powells.com/essays/kathlee...


message 14: by KrisT (last edited Feb 03, 2009 10:14AM) (new)

KrisT | 553 comments I found this in another interview with the author:

In The Heretic’s Daughter, you chose to tell Martha’s story as fiction, through the eyes of the angry, somewhat estranged Sarah, and the results are remarkably textured and often very moving. Were you drawn to the novel form from the outset? Or did you ever think about writing a more factually-limited family history?

KK replies:
It was always my intent to write fiction. In the first draft, the narrative was in the voice of Martha, but, as there was so much of the family story left to tell after her death, I decided to shift it to Sarah’s point of view. I felt it would give the story greater emotional tension to see the horrors of the witch trials from a child’s perspective. I also felt that the struggle for understanding between a mother and daughter is a universal theme. Sarah’s character is based, in part, on my grandmother’s reckless and unconventional personality.

also later she says:
I am currently at work on the second novel, which is a prequel to “The Heretic’s Daughter, and it explores the life of Thomas and his involvement in Cromwell’s army and the execution of King Charles I of England .



message 15: by KrisT (new)

KrisT | 553 comments I am very curious as to what everyone thinks about the hysteria of the witchcraft trials. What could make mostly adolescent girls, suddenly act out or in some cases band together to accuse these people???


message 16: by Holli (new)

Holli I wondered that too KrisT and why in the world did the adults just so blithely believe them??


message 17: by Beth (new)

Beth I don't think all of the adults involved blithely believed the girls. I think some of those in power saw the hysteria as a way to further their own gains and used the girls to do that, to confiscate the property of condemned witches, for instance. And as for the girls, it may have started as a lark, then once it went too far, there was no way they could back out without bringing public wrath and harm down on themselves.


message 18: by Holli (new)

Holli That makes sense Beth. I just thought it was strange that their parents never questioned them...I guess its just one of those things where it all snowballed very quickly.


message 19: by Dorie (new)

Dorie (wheeledk) | 22 comments 1) What did you think of the book or do you think of it if you are now reading it?

I really liked the book (and stayed up a bit too late for a few nights reading it)! I have only read a couple of books set in this time period in America (actually, I think the play The Crucible may be the only other one), so I enjoyed the description of daily life and the family interactions. I was very curious to see how Kent would describe the witch trials and their aftermath, but I enjoyed the story leading up to it just as much.

2) Thoughts on first time author Kathleen Kent's work and style?

The descriptions were easy to absorb, helping me to clearly visualize Sarah's surroundings as the story unfolded. I think that she also did an effective job of telling the story from a child's perspective without over-simplifying her character's thoughts and motivations. Sarah's perspective gave a really good feel for just how out-of-control and unbelievable the events must have seemed.

If she does write another book, I'll be interested to see if she sticks with this time period and/or the same kinds of mother/daughter themes.

3) What did you wish had been examined more or left out in the book... if anything?

I was a little confused by the references and small amount of information that we are given about Sarah's father's past. I would have liked to hear more details or to have seen a closer connection with the main story other than using it to explain why people were intimidated by Mr. Carrier.

KrisT mentioned the movie of The Crucible, which I really liked when I watched it in high school. I can't vouch for how close to history it is, but it will give you a close-up look at the Salem girls and how the whole mess may have started and gained momentum.(Really consistent with what Beth described)Highly recommend it!

Did anyone else feel very sorry for poor Hannah?!





message 20: by KrisT (last edited Feb 03, 2009 08:05PM) (new)

KrisT | 553 comments Dorie, above I found an interview with Kathleen Kent and the book she is working on now is about the father as a prequel to this book. Oh and the historians say Millers play The Crucible is not very accurate so now I will have to read it to see why.

I have been doing some reading on the Salem trials about the hysteria and some historians feel it was not about taking property from the victims. Also the judges were not actual judges just people that the area held in esteem. YIKES?
Also did you know there is history that at least two dogs were hung as witches? The hysteria could have been linked to an herb ergot? not sure what that is but I suppose some kind of hallucinogenic and some rumors of wild mushrooms or something on that order.

Not sure what it could have been. And Yes I did feel for Hannah at times but Sarah more so because she sort of knew what was going on where Hannah was so young (scarred for life though).


message 21: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2533 comments Mod
I have always been fascinated with words. I love the orgin and their intent and how they evolve. Through this discussion I have seen the word "Hysteria" used a lot. Interesting thing about the word hysteria... technically men can not be hysterical. Originally hysteria was a womans issue. The term originates with the Greek medical term, hysterikos. This referred to a medical condition, thought to be particular to women, caused by disturbances of the uterus, hystera in Greek. The term hysteria was coined by Hippocrates, who thought that suffocation and madness arose in women whose uteri had become too light and dry from lack of sexual intercourse and, as a result, wandered upward, compressing the heart, lungs, and diaphragm. Originally defined as a neurotic condition peculiar to women and thought to be caused by a dysfunction of the uterus"
I now hate when that word. I hate what it would have meant to our great grandmothers or great great grandmothers and the things done to them simply because they were women.
Do the factors that contributed to the hysteria of Salem have reaches in our society today?

Why were women the primary subject of witch trials when they held little to no power or influence in the time?

What does the perspective of a child change or add to the story? Would it have held as much power from one of Martha's sons?




Bloomin’ChickJo (bloominchick) I believe the Witch Hysteria in Salem started partly because of racism - 2 young girls willingly spend time with the household servant & engage in recreational activities which would be greatly frowned upon by their controlling & religious zealot of a father. Out of deep fear of their father & the knowledge that they would be believed over that of a servant, when they're confronted, they lie and tell that they were forced by her (the servant) to do these things against their will. They know of all the hell & damnation to use given that it's not only preached every Sunday in town, but every day in their own house.

The religious fervor of that time leads it to snowball like wild fire.

Women were the primary targets in New England as well as in Europe because of Biblical references to women being evil - afterall, it's Eve who causes Adam & Eve to be banished from Eden!


message 23: by Bloomin’ChickJo (last edited Feb 04, 2009 07:14AM) (new)

Bloomin’ChickJo (bloominchick) The Witch Trials here & in Europe should have a place in today's society as a constant reminder of what fear (of the unknown), desperation and religious fanaticism can do to those perceived to be the weaker members of a society. Unfortunately even though human history has many lessons & many reminders of this kind, history tends to repeat itself and to a more horrifying degree each time.

It should also touch us - as women, it should unite us knowing what women have gone through to get where we are today. They are us & we are them. I feel a connection. It saddens me deeply each time I read something like this - I feel so sorry that they went thru what they did!


message 24: by KrisT (last edited Feb 04, 2009 07:00AM) (new)

KrisT | 553 comments Tera asked >

Just a bit further in the future when you read books like 1000 white women you find there are families who sent their daughters to asylums because they didn't want to do what the parents wanted them to do. Gosh they sit at home while their brothers go to school and they embroider and press flowers and then they are supposed to go live under the thumb of some widowed man with 12 children so when they don't go they must be hysterical. I think we can trace this to today. Has anyone ever said.. "she must be pms'ing?" That drives me crazy when I hear that!!


Bloomin’ChickJo (bloominchick) If the pov of the novel had been from any of Martha's son, I don't think the overall observances would have been as many or as detailed since the boys were usually working outside the house on the land. Sarah was around the adults more and witnessed/observed more.

I still wish we had Martha's pov! (But, I've said that already, so I'll let it go!)


message 26: by Dolly (new)

Dolly (dollya) I know one thing this story made me think, I sure am glad I didn't live in that time in that place.

Now for the real questions from the group:
1) What did you think of the book or do you think of it if you are now reading it? It was an interesting book for me, I'm glad before I read it that I saw posts that it should be looked at more like a mother/daughter book, not just the Witch trials. It made me read it in a slight different way. I've never read any fiction that had to do with the witch trials, so this was totally different for me. I only had a slight knowledge of the witch trials. I'm going to research more on this from history because of this book.

2) Thoughts on first time author Kathleen Kent's work and style? I thought she did a good job for a first time writer, it started a little slow for me, but it got a lot better through the book in my opinion.
3) What did you wish had been examined more or left out in the book... if anything? I, like others mentioned here, felt bad for Hannah. I also would have liked to know more about Martha's point of view as well to better understand her ways. She sure was a tough woman.


message 27: by Katie (new)

Katie (katieisallbooked) | 319 comments 1) I thought this book was good, but not spectacular. This period in history is something I find interesting. The first half drug a bit and then before I knew it, the end arrived. I agree with Jo that the ending seemed rushed and vague.

2) Thoughts on first time author Kathleen Kent's work and style? The author did a great job with her descriptions throughout the book and it really brought the story to life. For a first work I think it is impressive.

3) What did you wish had been examined more or left out in the book... if anything? I agree with Dorie that Sarah's father's past wasn't very clear. I also would have liked to learn more about Sarah's Aunt Mary.


message 28: by Sheila , Supporting Chick (new)

Sheila  | 3485 comments Mod
1. I enjoyed the book, and am very glad it was picked for this club because I had not heard of it before it was suggested here.

2. For a first time author I think Kathleen Kent did very well. Her writing style kept me engrossed, and I read the book quickly, which for me it usually a good sign.

3. I wish more of the actual history had been examined. Maybe even to have included a chapter at the end telling facts about the real Martha and family. I was very interested in reading this because my husband is a decendant of a Salem trial family, and I would have appreciated more factual and historic details about Martha and her family.


Bloomin’ChickJo (bloominchick) Sheila, that's incredible about your Husband!


message 30: by KrisT (new)

KrisT | 553 comments I found some interesting stuff on NatGeo under Salem Hysteria there is an expert historian Richard Trask that gives a question and answer session. It really has some interesting info. if you want more about this.

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/salem/


message 31: by Cyn (new)

Cyn | 258 comments Oooooh I am in the middle of the book riht now but thanks for the link, KrisT!!!! I love the "behind the scense" kind of stuff I can dig up also!


message 32: by Dolly (new)

Dolly (dollya) I like the background information too. I looked around a bit after I read this last night. Interesting stuff isn't it? :)


message 33: by Nancy (new)

Nancy | 1243 comments KrisT - thanks for the link - Natl Geo does have some great inter-active stuff that I have used for students - i.e. their old Underground Railroad material. I am really enjoying it, and looking up other historical information to fill in the gaps. Just a thought... Approaching this from Sarah's POV, I believe was a device. For instance, a child's perspective allowed the writer to leave elements unanswered, the progress of the plot in question and characters' true natures in a state of suspense for lack of mature understanding. That is what propels the reader and gives the book momentum. It would have been an entirely different book had it been from Martha's POV - although that would be very interesting. I too would have enjoyed some author's note about the research into her family history.


message 34: by Dorie (new)

Dorie (wheeledk) | 22 comments KrisT - thanks for passing on some of the information you found about the history around the witch trials!

It's interesting to learn about the "justice" system of the time - not that our modern day system is flawless, but wow!


message 35: by KrisT (new)

KrisT | 553 comments Yeah there is something to be said for respect but gee I am not sure I would want my life depending on someones elevation in the community!!

In a way didn't the father get some respect because of his past? It seemed to me that while other men were accused of being warlocks that he was never under suspicion even with the feud with his sister and brother in law over their sons right to his property and all of his own family behind bars. I so wanted to know the secrets of the red book but I think that is why the author is leading us to her next book on the subject...but I just want to know more now! ;)


message 36: by Cathie (last edited Feb 08, 2009 12:16PM) (new)

Cathie (countrygarden) | 95 comments I am almost finished with "The Heretic" and am really liking the pov being from Sarah. She is very likeable although she seems a little older than her age in the book, but then i guess maybe the circumstances she is in made her mature quicker. I really liked the personal growth throughtout the story regarding the different characters, especially the relationship between Sarah and her mother.

Regarding the question how teenagers could cause such turmoil in this situation, I thought there was a lot of manipulation on the part of Mercy toward the Carrier family and thought that was very believable.

For Kathleen Kent's first novel I thought her characters were wonderfully rounded and real and her story was very interesting.




message 37: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2533 comments Mod
Let's talk about the mother daughter relationship. For me this book was more about that than anything else. I think there are special complexities that arise between a mother and daughter. Why do you think each of them were so hard on each other? Who did you more identify with Sarah or Martha and why?


message 38: by Holli (new)

Holli I can't say I identified with either of them really. I don't have a daughter so I didn't identify with Martha and my mom and I are close so i couldn't identify with Sarah for that.

I would say Sarah was hard on her mom mainly because she didn't understand her. Martha was cold and hard towards Sarah without any explanation and so she resented her. I believe Martha tried to explain herself to Sarah in the field but I'm not sure Sarah ever understood what Martha was trying to do.


message 39: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2533 comments Mod
I wonder how family relationships were then? I mean, sometimes they didn't even name their children until they were a year old because survival rate was so low. It's hard to imagine but maybe they were more survivalist groups than what we see as families today. Not that there wasn't love because I believe there was but i think the indulgence and free spirited love is a luxury not always available in all times.
It seems to me Martha was strong and hard but not necessarily cold for colds sake (if that makes sense). She was trying to make herself and her family strong and I wonder if that is how she saw giving love.
It seems Sarah only understood and valued her mom after she was able to witness the need for such strength. When she saw perhaps why her mother had been the tough one on her especially all those years.


message 40: by Holli (new)

Holli I agree about the times back then and how they had to survive first and love second. I don't think they showed alot of outward love back then as that would be indulgent and would spoil the child. I do feel Sarah was able to appreciate her mother more after the talk in the filed but I'm still not sure if she ever fully understood her.


message 41: by Cathie (new)

Cathie (countrygarden) | 95 comments i'm still not finished, almost! but i believe i identified with both of them. sometimes people have a hard time expressing their feelings at all or in a way others can understand and i think that was how martha was. i believe she loved her family deeply considering what she was willing to do to hopefully save them. i agree they may have protected themselves and their emotions because of the time they were living in, losing so much and losing so many children. i'm thinking the way the story is going that sarah will understand her mother's feelings more as she gets older and processes it. i think maybe sarah was able to express her love more freely because she hadn't witnessed/experienced as many hardships as her mother.


Bloomin’ChickJo (bloominchick) I think mothers and daughters are especially hard on one another at times because daughters don't believe that mothers understand what they are going through and daughters cannot possibly understand all a mother has been through and continues to go through. (I hope that makes sense!)

I didn't find that I related to either Martha or Sarah.


message 43: by Pamela (new)

Pamela My mother and I have ALWAYS had a strained relationship. She is not the kind of mother who "mothered" very affectionately like other mothers I would know. I never felt "safe" wrapped in the bosom of my mother. She never abused me, she always provided my brother and I the time we needed with her and did everything a conventional mother would do....she just was kind-of a "cold"-affectionate person. I always felt miniscule and judged by her. There was always a strained tension between us.

I see this kind of relationship with Sarah and Martha. Life for them all was SO difficult in general. Martha found she had to not only be physically strong to handle the house and farm, but also mentally tough for herself and her family to handle the attacks of her sister and brother-in-law. I think mentally she just embodies this "toughness" to handle every-day living. I also think she is trying to toughen her daughters....to be able to handle what life in going to throw at them. Every day they worried about attack from Indians, disease, success or failure of the crops...on top of the family disagreements and persecution from the Uncle...raising scared and flighty daughters would just have been a mistake with the kind of future they were facing. Martha's mother...right or wrong...was acting in self-preservation for herself and her daughters, I believe. And Sarah, was reacting as I did...you love your mom and although you appreciate her strengths, it is hard not to chastise her for her weaknesses. With Uncle acting and behaving the way he did, it was hard for me not to get angry at Aunt for allowing him to continue to treat her only sister the way he was. There was obviously some part of her life where she and Martha were close and Uncle was systematically severing that tie. I thought the author did an excellent job of portraying living in a family with an alcoholic father...the swing from the happy-go-lucky likable guy to the terrible drunk....through the eyes of a child. How Margaret would continually forgive her dad and her brothers for their inexcusable behavior toward Sarah and her family......the obvious "fixer" or "scape-goat" in the alcoholic family tree. I also like the way the author portrayed the relationship of the Carrier parents in the eyes of their children. There was a deep and abiding love and dependence between Martha and her husband which was wrought long before the children came along. They both were toughened survivors of difficult lives...and had the battle scars to show for it. I believe that Sarah's dad was probably a tough guy to love but only Martha could see the soft side of him. Neither showed much open affection for each other but that was because of life's lessons and their combined ability to persevere by building a fortress of unbreachable strength. That strength was just as much a sign of affection as holding each other or sharing a kiss. Of course, looking at that from a child's POV would give a colder image of love.

Bravo to the author on a wonderful first novel. I'll be anxious to start the next!


message 44: by KrisT (new)

KrisT | 553 comments I could relate to the mother/daughter relationship in many ways. I grew up on a farm and the youngest of 10. (only two boys) By the time I came along most of my older siblings were having their own children and I have nieces and nephews starting one year younger than me and on down. Youngest/oldest concept.
We were not an affectionate family, we were there to work the farm and keep things going. I think you see a lack of most outward affection because of the purpose of having a large family was to work and increase the farm. That doesn't mean there was not loyalty to the family but there was not the concern for who was getting what attention or needs met. You just worked and did what you must do to survive.

I thought their relationship in the book, while probably harsh for today's standards, was quite normal. Sarah learned what she could when she was with her mother and she took care of Hannah as best she could and her brother that was mentally slow? name?.
I felt for Sarah when she tried to run the household while her mother was imprisoned and she finally just had to let things go. That was the hardest for me to witness. If the boys would have tried to help they might have stayed a little cleaner but they were really in harsh harsh straights.
It was very realistic to me and my own experiences.


message 45: by Meg (new)

Meg (megvt) | 3069 comments I related to the mother/daughter relationship as well. My relationship with my mother was not a good one growing up. It ranged from abuse, to self centeredness and basically not caring about me at all. I always said that I grew up in spite of my mother. At first their relationship was very strained but as the years went by they began to accept each other for who they were. As the witch hunt started and intensified it brought them together and they forgave their past. My mother and I have gone through many crises together and therefore forgave our past relationship somewhat. In times of crisis families seem to pull together, both in this book and in real life. I really loved how that book relationship developed.


Bloomin’ChickJo (bloominchick) Meg, that's an incredible post. Thank you for sharing this with us.


message 47: by Dorie (last edited Feb 12, 2009 12:19PM) (new)

Dorie (wheeledk) | 22 comments I feel fortunate that my mom and I have always had a really good relationship. She's always been my biggest support. But, I can actually see some similarities between Sarah and Martha's relationship and mine with my dad. Growing up, I always felt like he was too hard on my siblings and I. Looking back, I still think he could have handled situations differently, but I can see that he was trying to teach us lessons in working toward goals, following through on promises, etc. and in general trying to keep us from getting too spoiled. I definitely appreciate him a lot more now that I'm older and wiser.

It's sad that Sarah and her mother did not have much time together to enjoy and further develop their newfound closeness. But I was happy to see that the memory of her mother that Sarah would carry with her was so vastly different from her feelings toward her mother at the beginning of the story.


message 48: by Cathie (new)

Cathie (countrygarden) | 95 comments I thought this book was very good, educational and filled with really good characters. I thought the author's prose was very strong and loved some of her descriptions, character thoughts. I especially loved the scene in the meadow between Sarah and her mother. One quote really stuck with me when they were talking about wild mushrooms, "That which is scarred and pitted in nature can mean sustenance and life, whereas smooth and pretty skin can mean destruction and death. People, too, are not oftenwhat they seem, even those whom you love. You must look closely, Sarah." Very well done book.


message 49: by Kathy (new)

Kathy | 66 comments I enjoyed this book. I liked the path this book took. There has been a lot written about the actual trial. This was a family's story and their coping with the termoil around them. It was interesting reading about this historic time. I agree with others that women had a hard life and they were the scapegoats used in many situations through history.


message 50: by Patty (new)

Patty | 84 comments In some respects this is also a coming of age book. Sarah, like many young girls, sees her parents as harsh and cold and her aunt and uncle as the "fun" parents. Only as times get tough and as she ages, mentally as well as physically, does she have a different perspective on the people around her.

I think this book was interesting written from this perspective - but it definately was not written as a "trial" book.

I also wish we had learned a bit more about her father's background along the way.


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