9 member(s) found this review helpful.
This classic is just as wonderful as it was the first time I read it as a teenager. The colorful characters, the honesty in which life in 17th Century New England is written, brought back all the memories which made this a favorite book of mine. I think I was also able to read more into it as an adult, as well. Not just the story, but between the lines, the hardships of life back then, the sharp differences in religion and loyalty to home and family. How friendships come about and thrive when you stand up for what you believe in, no matter the cost. This is a keeper for me. I hope someday my daughter will love this book as much as I do.
4 member(s) found this review helpful.
ISBN 0440495962 - Excellent, well written book for ages 12 and up, Witch is more likely to appeal to girls. This book has enough romance to make it unappealing to some, but it deserves the Newbery Award it won in 1959.
Kit Tyler was orphaned years before, but it is only now that she feels like an orphan - her grandfather, Sir Francis Tyler, a well-off plantation owner on Barbados, has died and Kit finds out that all he's left behind is mountainous debt. His entire estate is sold off to pay those debts and Kit's own slave has to be sold, as well, to finance her journey to Connecticut. There, her mother's only sister, beautiful Rachel, lives with her family. She befriends Nat Eaton, the captain's son, but fails to tell him that her family isn't expecting her. He is surprised by their surprise, when Kit shows up on their doorstep, where they part ways. Kit, too, gets a surprise, when she finds that her aunt, once a great beauty, is a somewhat worn, plain woman. Clearly her life has changed her.
It takes some time for Kit to get accustomed to the ways of her aunt's family, who are Puritans (Kit had even disparagingly referred to them as "Roundheads" while still on the boat). Their simple life of hard work is a harsh existence with little joy and Kit misses much about her old life. Still, she has no one else and tries to learn to do the chores she is given to the best of her ability. When William Ashby, a young man of some means, begins to court her, Kit realizes that he might be the best chance she has to escape from the drudgery of her life under Uncle Matthew's roof. Judith, Kit's cousin, had previously set her sights on William, but when he favors Kit, she turns her attention to John Holbrook, a budding clergyman. Judith is unaware that her crippled sister, Mercy, has fallen in love with John and even less aware that John also loves Mercy.
While the prospect of escape via marriage to William is in the future, Kit lives in the present, becoming friendly with Hannah, an elderly Quaker woman who lives alone on the shore of Blackbird Pond. The townspeople believe her to be a witch, mostly because she isn't Puritan. Consorting with Hannah doesn't do much to improve Kit's standing in the town, but she laughs off the idea of herself or anyone being a witch - until they lock her up and put her on trial. Her friendships with Nat and Prudence pay off in a big way, when they appear at the trial, but Nat runs before she can thank him - and before she realizes that it is Nat that she really loves.
As a teen or pre-teen, this book would not have impressed me much, and I'd have found the romance gag-worthy. Everyone ends up with the guy they should end up with and all, it is implied, live happily ever after. As an adult, however, I really enjoyed the story. The prejudice of the time, not unlike the prejudice of ANY time period, was interesting. To read that the ability to swim was an indication that one was a witch is funny now, but a nice bit of irony for the time - the only way to prove your innocence was to die by drowning! Not perfect, and a little more "historical romance" than plain old "historical fiction", but still very nicely done.
3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Ms. Speare does a wonderful job with this book. There is a very strong plot with convincing characters. The story of a girl whose rebellion against bigotry and her Puritan surroundings explode in a witch hunt and trail.