Kathleen Kent is a 10th generation descendent of Martha Carrier. She is also a natural-born storyteller, and in her first novel, she paints a haunting portrait, not just of Puritan New England, but also of one family's deep and abiding love in the face of fear and persecution
©2008 Kathleen Kent; (P)2008 Hachette Audio
Both the book & the narrator were near perfection. The book tells the story of Sarah Carrier, whose Mother, Martha, is executed as a witch during the Salem Witch trials. It examines the themes of mother/daughter relationships, family, community, survival & religion. Over & over again it examines its central question, what is love? Is love hard or soft, does love give freedom or restrain it? The questions & themes resonate long after the book is finished. The narrator does a beautiful job with the material, reading with subtlety & depth, covering a broad range of characters & accents. I highly recommend this book. If you are anything like me, be prepared; I cried through much of it.
It took me a long time to finish this book because I just didn't engage with it. The writing is fine, the historical research and the imagining of the story are excellent. The main character is likable, though many of the relationships and many of the characters seem too simple to be really convincing. As historical fiction, the story makes you feel as though you are in the place and time and mindset of the era of the Salem witch trials. Most importantly, it will make you feel the horror and the atrocity of what was done, and the futile frustration of the victims. It's worth the investment for that.
It's not much more complex. You don't understand why the bad guys did what they did, aside from the petty jealousies and fears on the surface. It's not quite an epic, either--you don't feel much of the world outside, though at times the writer tries.
And the story becomes mechanical at points, as the author seems determined to lay out the historical details whether they add to the story or not, or to include all of her research into living conditions and setting. Given that you know pretty much what the ending will be, there's not a lot to pull you through the story at times.
It's an informative and interesting historical novel, and if you are interested in the era, or just in the horrible atrocities of man, it's worth the listen, despite some of its weaknesses. Mare Winningham does a good job of capturing the resigned, earthy tones of the narrator, too.
I really enjoyed this novel--highly recommend it. The narrator, 11-year old Sarah Carrier, lives in Andover, MA at the time of the witch hunts in nearby Salem. The novel is based on a true story: Sarah's mother Martha was hanged for witchcraft, and she and her three brothers were also charged. The novel not only presents the facts and a wonderful portrait of the struggles of everyday life at the time but also creates a moving portrait of a daughter coming to understand her parents and the true nature of their love for their children. I listened to the book on audio, read by Mare Winningham; very nicely done indeed.
A very good book. I loved the plot, the descriptive narrative. I felt as if I knew these people and even cried at some parts. I would recommend this book to anyone, especially who has an interest in Salem. it touched the horrors of the witch trials without being too graphic. Loved it!
Based so strongly on research from the court documents and writings of the time, this novel really brings the horror of the time and place to life. I found it far more compelling than The Crucible in the illustration of fear, ignorance and hate. Narrated from the point of view of a young girl, this portrait is likely to resonate more with women but in a day when peer pressure among teens runs amok, it should be required reading.
From the minuet I turned on my Zen to listen to; The Heretic's Daughter; I was captured. I enjoy reading Historical Fiction and this is to be one of the best. I went on the internet to find other book by Kathleen Kent only to find that this is her first book. I sure hope that she continues to write. I am looking forward to reading her next book. Mare Winningham was an excellent narrator and brought the story to life. I would highly recommend it to everyone.
Which came first... the books or the glasses?
I listened to about half of this book before I put myself out of my misery (the book is about 10 hrs and I listened to 5 1/2). The book is suppose to be about a girl's mother who was accused of being a witch in the 1600's when people were spooked about that sort of thing however 5 1/2 hrs into the book the author had not got around to what was suppose to be the main plot line. The plot was being narrated by the daughter, Sarah, and she was talking about mundane things like doing the washing, helping with the plowing, finding the neighbors cows in the yard and returning them, etc. Sometimes she would talk about something interesting like someone catching yellow fever and there was the suspense of whether that person lived but those type of moments were few and far between. As I said, over half way into the book and no mention of witches. I don't like it when an author saves their real story for the last maybe 50 or 25 pages of a book and uses filler for the rest just to make a bigger book or because they really don't have a full story to tell; that's wasting my time not to mention boring me senseless. I do not recommend this book.
On a good note, Mare Winningham is a good narrator. She is the reason I listened as long as I did.
This book was like going back in time; very vivid recalling of an era that is so interesting to me. Family love is found and lost, then found again...all in the middle of such injustice. Families are torn apart by fear and ignorance. Required reading? YES!
It is not a "light read" but excellent nonetheless.
Historical fictions is one of my new favorites. It was delightful to read about familiar places I have been and most importantly learning more about an historical event which happened in my home town and never really took the time to learn or investigate the truths of the debacle. The atrocities which happened to the lives and families of the people accused of witchery in Old Salem is truely astounding
I never really knew much about the Salem witch trials and found this very informative. It was interesting because it was told from the experience of a family that went through it. It was a very bizarre happening and when you realize how many lives were affected it's pretty sad, too.
It was good.
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