Katherine Howe’s Conversion


Title: Conversion
Author: Katherine Howe
ISBN: 978-0399167775
Length: 432 Pages
Publication Date: July 1, 2014
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Genre: Historical Fiction, General Fiction
Source: Harris County Public Library




Reasons for Reading: I often recommend Katherine Howe’s The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane to readers seeking a good book to read. Of course, when Howe’s Conversion arrived in the order department at Harris County Public Library, I placed a request on it.

Summary : Howe offers us two points of view. The first belongs to Colleen Rowley is a stressed out high senior attending the prestigious St. Joan’s Academy in the year 2012. Various classmates of Colleen’s succumb to odd behavior – tics, panic, hysteria, etc. On top of that, a popular teacher mysteriously departs. All of this just happens to take place in Danvers, Massachusetts. The other point of view comes from a recalcitrant, grown up Ann Putnam. In 1706, Ann builds up the courage to publicly confess to her part in the witch hunt known as the infamous Salem Witch Trials.

One Thing I Learned from this book: I rediscovered that Danvers used to be Salem Village.

What I Liked: I liked the Easter eggs referring to one of my favorite books – The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. Also, I felt Colleen and her friends were genuine, well-conceived characters.

What I Disliked: I wanted a few of the loose ends to be tied. Maybe there will be a sequel?

RR - Yellow  Rainbow Rating: Yellow – Parental Guidance for Kids Under 13

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Katherine Howe’s The House of Velvet and Glass

Jorie’s Store – Katherine Howe’s The House of Velvet and Glass

Title and Author(s):  Katherine Howe’s The House of Velvet and Glass
Release Date:
 Apr 06, 2012
Publisher: Thorndike Press; Lrg edition

ISBN: 978-1410448743
Pages: 695
Source: Harris County Public Library

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Reasons for Reading: Feel free to click onto this link TBRs – Katherine Howe’s The House of Velvet and Glass. Unfortunately,  I was reading this book when my Nook went on the fritz. It was a huge relief to me when I found the large print version of this novel at the library branch. Thus, I was able to quickly finish this book.

Summary: It’s 1915, three years after losing her mother and sister (Helen and Eulah) on that fateful voyage of the HMS Titanic, Sibyl Allston suffers in near silence as she runs the Boston household of her laconic, shipping magnate Lan Allston. She seeks solace in her late mother’s medium. When her brother, Harlan, gets kicked out of Harvard and his involvement with an odd woman seems the cause, old flame Professor Benton Derby reaches out to Sibyl. With Benton, Sibyl embarks on an odd journey of discovery of Boston’s Chinatown and its opium dens. Sibyl’s 1915 point of view is mingled with those of Helen and Eulah’s 1912 and Lannie’s 1867. I won’t say anymore about Lannie.

One Thing I Learned from reading Katherine Howe’s The House of Velvet and GlassI knew of the Widener Library at Harvard but I didn’t know the story behind it. For more info, visit History – Widener Library – Harvard College Library.

What I Liked: The characters were well conceived – particularly Sibyl, Eulah, and Lan. The settings appeared well-researched and recreated. Howe’s descriptive writing paints the picture without being gratuitous. I appreciated the integration of real-life people such as Harry Widener and Edwin Friend. By the end of the novel, I truly appreciated Lan’s love for and devotion to his family. Howe’s afterward was great and she made significant points in this section.

What I Disliked: Well, it wasn’t “Deliverance Dane.” The beginning didn’t pull me in as quickly as Howe’s first effort did. Once I put aside my “Deliverance Dane” measuring stick, I got more out of this book. Also, the presence of opium in this book made me extremely uncomfortable. Nonetheless, I DID like the resolution of the opium abuse. Lastly, I wanted to know more about Dovie, Harlan’s mysterious girlfriend.

Song: Al Bowlly “Melancholy Baby”

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Katherine Howe’s The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

Howe, K. (2009). The physick book of Deliverance Dane: A novel. New York: Voice/Hyperion. 9781401340902

After hearing about the book being touted as the Summer 2009 must read, I added my name to the waiting list for The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. When I checked it out from the library, it only took me a few days to read.

Howe gives us at least two different threads to follow. One storyline pertains to Harvard doctoral candidate Connie Goodwin who lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1991. Connie is an American colonial history student who needs to work on her dissertation. Thanks to her free-spirited mother, Connie finds herself preparing her late grandmother’s home for sale. In the process, Connie finds an old family Bible. Within it, Connie uncovers an old key with a scrap of paper which says “Deliverance Dane.”

Then there’s the story of Deliverance Dane, a woman living in Salem Village, Massachusetts during the late 1600s.  Deliverance becomes embroiled in the Salem witch trials in an unprecedented way.

I could not stop reading. Howe told a good story as well giving us great visualizations. Connie was definitely a visual person; seeing history tomes in the library of her mind’s eye. She also imagined homes in the 1600s!

Another profound element was the blending of near puritanical Christianity with witchcraft. I never considered the combination.

Okay, this gets Five out of Five pearls. I can’t wait for Howe’s next book.

Places: Massachusetts – Salem, Boston, Cambridge, Marblehead

Word Bank: academia, alchemy, bastion, belladonna,  Brahmin, chortle, desultory, epithet, mandrake, physick, simulacrum, tetragrammaton,

(links to words pending)

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