Friday, June 26, 2009

Review: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

Summary: A spellbinding, beautifully written novel that moves between contemporary times and one of the most fascinating and disturbing periods in American history–the Salem witch trials.

Harvard graduate student Connie Goodwin needs to spend her summer doing research for her doctoral dissertation. But when her mother asks her to handle the sale of Connie’s grandmother’s abandoned home near Salem, she can’t refuse. As she is drawn deeper into the mysteries of the family house, Connie discovers an ancient key within a seventeenth-century Bible. The key contains a yellowing fragment of parchment with a name written upon it: Deliverance Dane. This discovery launches Connie on a quest--to find out who this woman was and to unearth a rare artifact of singular power: a physick book, its pages a secret repository for lost knowledge.


As the pieces of Deliverance’s harrowing story begin to fall into place, Connie is haunted by visions of the long-ago witch trials, and she begins to fear that she is more tied to Salem’s dark past then she could have ever imagined.

Written with astonishing conviction and grace, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane travels seamlessly between the witch trials of the 1690s and a modern woman’s story of mystery, intrigue, and revelation. --Voice

Here I go again! I just finished another wonderful book and I'm afraid that my review isn't going to do it justice. I guess it's a good thing that I've been reading so many wonderful books, but I'm having a heck of a time writing my thoughts in an articulate and cohesive manner. The latest book that I've read and adored is
THE PHYSICK BOOK OF DELIVERANCE DANE by Katherine Howe. I just loved this book and treasured each and every page, and I can't recommend this book enough.

I have to admit that I am fascinated by the Salem Witch Trials and books that deal with this subject, and I'm guessing that I'm not alone since there have been quite a few in recent memory. I guess one of the things that I really enjoyed about THE PHYSICK BOOK OF DELIVERANCE DANE was in how the author chose to handle this event. Rather than assume that all of the women charged with being witches were innocent, she chose to ask the question, "What if some of the women were actually practicing some sort of magic/witchcraft?" I loved her take on this, and it really made me sit back and think -- a lot.

Another thing I loved about this book was in how Ms. Howe told the story. The book went back and forth between the present (or at least 1991) and the 1670s; and it was seamless. I especially appreciated how she incorporated Connie and her research into the story of Deliverance Dane and her family. I honestly can't say which portion of the book I enjoyed more -- the past or the present because they were both done so well. I definitely enjoyed the story of Connie, and I liked that I discovered things about Deliverance Dane through Connie's research; however, I also loved learning about the characters in the past as well as the trials. This might sound strange, but it was almost as if I were researching the past along side with Connie and learning things as she did.

I love historical fiction so it was no surprise that I appreciate how Ms. Howe incorporate this time period and real-life people into this story. It is apparent that she knows her stuff and conducted a ton of research to write this novel. I think what brought this book to another level for me was her development of Deliverance and her descendants as well as the creation of the Connie character. I definitely found that Ms. Howe made Deliverance and Connie believable characters to me with both strengths and flaws. I also loved how Ms. Howe demonstrated the effects that these trials had on the families of the accused women -- she even showed how the effects lasted for many generations.

THE PHYSICK BOOK OF DELIVERANCE DANE is just an amazing book, so I was blown
away when I found out that this novel is Katherine Howe's first book. Not only did she come up with a wonderful story, but she also told the story in a beautiful way. The book contained some mystery, intrigue, magic and even a little romance. It is just a fabulous and interesting story -- plus it's unique! Ms Howe is actually a descendant of two women who were tried for witchcraft -- Elizabeth Howe and and Elizabeth Proctor. She was working on her PhD in American and New England History when she came up with the idea for this novel and wrote it. I sincerely hope that she continues to write bokss because I will be waiting in line to read more of her work! In fact, I read that she has an idea for a sequel to THE PHYSICK BOOK OF DELIVERANCE DANE -- YAY!!!!

I think the website for this book is so interesting, and it really does seem to just "fit" the book. It has the normal things I expect like a summary of the book and information about the author, but it also has facts about the town of Salem which I found to be very interesting. It also has some examples of the loads of praise that this book has received as well as an excerpt from the audio book.

THE PHYSICK BOOK OF DELIVERANCE DANE would, without a doubt, make for a fantastic book club selection. I am almost positive that every member of my book club would enjoy reading and talking about it. I know many people find the Salem Witch Trials to be fascinating, and I think the author's take on this event makes this book extra special. I was thrilled to find this reading group guide on Barnes and Noble's website -- it was picked as part of their First Look Book Club and as a B&N Recommended Title. I think a discussion of this book would be extremely interesting, and I definitely appreciated quite a few of the discussion questions. Some of the themes which you can explore are: the role of women, witchcraft and the supernatural, religion, and especially mother/daughter relationships.

If you aren't tempted yet but all the praise, check out the book's trailer:

16 comments:

Nicole said...

Great review Julie. I am really looking forward to getting into seeing this time period examined from another wonderful perspective.

Kaye said...

I loved this book also and rated it 5 stars. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. Your review certainly did do it justice! Great job. Like you, I can't wait for a sequel. Howe is an amazing writer for one so young and this is her debut novel. Awesome book!

bermudaonion said...

Wow, this book sounds like a labor of love. I'm always impressed when someone puts that much research into a work of fiction. Great review, as always.

Chris said...

I really enjoyed this one too. It was well researched.

Cheryl said...

I have this book on my list to be read. After reading your review I will have to read it soon

Jennsbookshelf said...

I'm reviewing this one soon. I'm really looking forward to it.

holdenj said...

What a great review and very articulate! I've heard a lot about this book, but now I want to read it even more.

Gerbera Daisy Mom said...

Awesome! I just added this to my Goodreads list. Love it when a book that has gotten advance buzz is followed up by a glowing review.

Normally I wait for things at the library -- is it worth buying???

Holly said...

Awesome review. This one is very intriguing!

Kim said...

I'm hooked! Thank you! I put it on my Shelfari shelf.

The Reader said...

I really enjoyed Deliverance Dane too--especially the parts in the past! Good to see other good reviews!

Beth F said...

So glad to see that this one is great. I have it here waiting for July. Now I can't wait to get to it.

Wanda said...

I'm heading to the Library to find it. Thanks for the appetizer! :)

softdrink said...

I'm definitely in the minority on this one. Although I liked it, I wasn't as enthusiastic about it as most people are. It'll still be interesting to see what she writes next, though.

Stephanie said...

Oh, I really like the book trailer! I scored a copy of this signed by the author at BEA and hope to read it soon!

teabird said...

I reviewed it today, with slightly less admiration... Enjoyed your review a lot!