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In the Shadow of Salem Kindle Edition
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|Length: 194 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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The characters were interesting and well developed. Even more important they were real- both with their good points and faults. Mehitabel was a fascinating character, and the author did an excellent job of getting into Mehitabel's head to explain her thoughts and feelings. The details in the book made me feel like I was right there with Mehitabel. I could feel her pain, confusion, and frustration.
The story moved at a quick pace. I couldn't wait to see what would happen next, and while dark at times, the story is still one of hope. I recommend this book to fellow historical fiction readers like myself and look forward to the author's next book!
Gawell does an impressive job of weaving a fictionalized account of her ancestor using extant court records and the knowledge of the piety and zeal of the Puritan culture of mid-1600s. The first person account of this “bastard child, arsonist, drunk, accused witch” makes the story even more compelling as we see a grim and harsh world through Mehitabel’s eyes with glimpses of grace within the parishioners and herself. Gawell shows how difficult life was in the New World, especially for servants and those who were marginalized by society. With very few rights, the poor were defenseless and vulnerable to the whim of their employers and the courts. She manages to bring to life her ancestor whose irresponsible actions and naivité as a teen cause big trouble for herself and her loved ones.
This well-researched book helps us understand the kinds of events that led to the infamous Salem witch trials and the mass hysteria that infected the area, including Ipswich, a village near Salem where the story takes place.
The story revolves around the life of Mahitable Baybrook who was born to a prominent member of the community but was not the daughter of his wife. Life was not easy for Mahitable, loved by her father but despised by her “mother”, growing up was difficult for Mahitable. As an adult, Mahitable finds herself in the middle of all the turmoil of Salem along with other historical events of the time.
Since I had family who lived in the same geographic areas in the period of history, I became very curious about what their life would have been all about. Donna’s research and writing brought into focus the strong religious influence on all aspects of the lives of the early English settlers of Massachusetts.