"Harvard graduate student Connie Goodwin needs to spend her summer doing research for her doctoral dissertation. But when her mother asks her to handle the sale of Connie's grandmother's abandoned home near Salem, she can't refuse. As she is drawn deeper into the mysteries of the family house, Connie discovers an ancient key within a seventeenth-century Bible. The key contains a yellowing fragment of parchment with a name written upon it: Deliverance Dane. This discovery launches Connie on a quest--to find out who this woman was and to unearth a rare artifact of singular power: a physick book, its pages a secret repository for lost knowledge.
As the pieces of Deliverance's harrowing story begin to fall into place, Connie is haunted by visions of the long-ago witch trials, and she begins to fear that she is more tied to Salem's dark past then she could have ever imagined."
This novel was absolutely wonderful- I read it in two days because I just couldn't put it down when I was home. The stories of a modern-day PhD candidate and the 17th century cunning woman she is researching are blended seamlessly in this excellent first novel. I've read many books (both fiction and nonfiction) about the Salem witch trials, but haven't enjoyed once so much since I read The Witch of Blackbird Pond some 25 years ago.
This novel is well-written and well-crafted- a real delight to read. The relationships between the various women in the book speaks to the universality of mother-daughter bonds, and the struggle many women face (both in the past and in the present) to shape and adapt to the world in which we live.
I highly recommend this stellar effort, and hope that Katherine Howe continues writing; I'll be on the lookout for future works by this excellent writer.