I am glad I wasn’t born in the 1600s. Several days after I finished reading Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian that is all I can think about. I suppose; however, that if I was born in the 1600s, I wouldn’t have 2022’s knowledge and expectation, but still.
Set in 1662 in Boston, Mary Deerfield comes from what sounds like a progressive family – her parents insisted she have an education and not just in lady things and when her powerful but cruel husband Thomas Deerfield drives a three-tined fork into her hand and Mary turns to her family for support. Rather than forcing her back to her husband, they help her file for divorce. I didn’t know divorce was possible at that time, but according to Bohjalian it was. Of course, Thomas was smart – beating and humiliating his young wife without witness and while he was often drink-drunk, he was smart enough to hide that, too, making the charges difficult to stick.
“But in a world where every neighbour is watching for signs of the devil, a woman like Mary – a woman who harbors secret desires and finds it difficult to tolerate the brazen hypocrisy of so many men in the colony – soon finds herself the object of suspicion and rumor. When tainted objects are discovered buried in Mary’s garden, when a boy she has treated with herbs and simples dies, and when their servant girl runs screaming in fright from her home, Mary must fight to not only escape her marriage, but also the gallows.”
I really enjoyed the book. I found it a bit slow in the middle, but that was due more to the frustrations of the time then of the writing. There were some great characters besides Mary and the ending was perfect.