This debut novel blends the history of the Salem witch trials with the tale of a 1991 Harvard student who makes some surprising discoveries about her family’s past.
It seems an odd and disturbing question, particularly coming from a renowned Harvard scholar: “Have you not considered the distinct possibility that the accused were simply of witchcraft?”
No, graduate student Connie Goodwin has never entertained the possibility that the women on trial in Salem, Mass., in 1692 were really witches. But this is her academic adviser, the venerable Prof. Manning Chilton, asking the question, so answer she must. Jump through the hoop, she tells herself. And she does – little knowing how far that leap will take her.
So begins The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, a debut novel in which author Katherine Howe blends the history of the long-ago witch trials with the tale of a 1991 Harvard student to create a toothsome smoothie of a summer read.
Connie is an earnest, devoted scholar of American Colonial history working on her PhD at Harvard University. She doesn’t have much of a social life but she sure knows her way around a card catalog and works hard to ensure that her tidy, organized life as an academic will remain distant from that of the hippie-dippie lifestyle of her New Age-y mother, Grace.