Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Daughters of the Witching Hill - Mary Sharratt

Daughters of the Witching Hill
Daughters of the Witching Hill
By Mary Sharratt

I have read many books about witch hunts in various countries and the similarities, as well as the differences, fascinate me. Daughters of the Witching Hill is based on the true story of the 1612 Pendle witch-hunt. As the story unfolds, it shows how seemingly innocent religious beliefs intertwined with and also were confused with witchcraft.

Mother Demdike was a woman with the power to heal and the people in her community embraced that power…until they didn’t. Sharratt tells a heartbreaking story with surprising redemption. The story is filled with questionable characters and lose-lose situations which bring it to life. A battle between “bad witch” and “good witch” turns loved ones against each other but what resonated with me most was Mother Demdike’s insistence that they must not cry witch because once a witch-hunt starts, no one is safe.

I loved the different relationships between all the women. The seemingly strong bonds that brought out so many joyous and heartbreaking moments, as well as some interesting conversations:

She rested her brow upon my shoulder.
‘It’s the virgin’s disease, so my father says. The only cure is marriage. The longer I’m a maid, the worse it will get.’
-pg 180

Although this comment comes in the middle of a discussion about being cursed, it paints an interesting picture about the way that women were viewed and treated.

**Source: contest win from Passages to the Past


Anonymous said...

"The only cure is marriage."- It sounds laughably absurd, until I realize that people really did think like this.

When I first heard of this book, I was surprised to hear of a non-Salem witch hunt. But I think people back in the day were so superstitious and the fear of the unknown was so troubling that I'm surprised more people who stood out didn't get persecuted.

I am drawn to historical witch books ,though, and this is the perfect time of year to read them.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I like historical books about witches, especially set in Salem, MA (early witch trials). This one sounds like one I'd enjoy.