Playing Many Parts

Monday’s Reading Nook – The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane



One of my favorite new things to do is to check out humanities courses on Coursera and EdX.  I am currently working through a fascinating class on Historical Fiction called Plagues, Witches, and War: The Worlds of Historical Fiction.  There are lots of great books, stories and articles highlighted in this class, but the one I jumped to first to get a feel for the material was The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe.  There is just so many interesting things to say about both the class and the reading material I hardly know where to start.  And yes, if you didn’t get it by now, I am most definitely a book worm nerd and will always call reading my superpower!

Katherine Howe is a descendant of both Elizabeth Howe who was convicted and killed for witchcraft, but also of accused but not sentences Elizabeth Proctor (whose husband was convicted and killed).  For me, that makes her book a bit more real and vastly more interesting.  Also, Howe jumps back and forth between present day and the 1700s which also adds much interest for me.  There are love stories and mystery and history all here in this little gem of a book.  I am not completely done with the book, so I guess it could take a turn for the worse, but at two-thirds of the way through I can say that this is a really enjoyable summer read and has made this class a ton of fun.

Salem Trials

Salem Trials

I now want to be both an English Lit Doctoral Student and a Historical Fiction Author, so I think both the class and the book have been fairly successful.   On a more serious note, I think we remain so interested in this particular part of our history because it seems so utterly devoid of human kindness.  It is hard to imagine a world where one is arrested, locked up, and killed for a crime that can’t be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.  Or are we still doing that?  Have we really progressed, or are we just a touch less brutal so we bury our heads in the sand and pretend that situations like this could no longer happen here?

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