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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