Wednesday, February 13, 2008

more recent reading

Witch Child by Celia Rees
The year is 1659, a time of fear and lies. For Mary Newbury, it is a time of desperation. While she watches, unable to intervene, her wise and beloved grandmother is falsely condemned, tortured, and hanged as a witch. Soon the relentless crowd may turn upon Mary.
When a mysterious stranger offers her a way out--safe passage to America--she knows she must go. But she doesn't know that the turbulent voyage will bring her to yet another society where differences are feared and defiance is deadly. To survive, Mary pretends to be a pious Puritan girl. But when witch frenzy begins to tear apart the community, Mary must finally choose between the precarious safety of her disguise and her own true nature.

The time period and subject matter are both of great interest to me and I thought this book was very well done. I particularly liked the archival aspect of it - the fact that the bulk of the book was Mary's diary that she hid in a quilt and was only discovered 400+ years later.

I found Mary's character quite sympathetic and ended the book hoping that she'd met up with Jaybird and lived happily-ever-after with his tribe. Now that I know there is a sequel (Sorceress), I've put in on my wishlist.

The Professor Dr Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld series by Alexander McCall Smith
Portuguese Irregular Verbs, The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs, and At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances (all published in 2003).

I feel the end to harken back to something I wrote about The Sunday Philosophy Club, the first book in another AMS series:
One thing that occurred to me as I was listening to the book is how different Isabel is from Precious Rambotswe (star of the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency books). Not that I expected them to be similar, but I found it interesting that while McCall Smith's core audience probably has the least in common with Precious, she may very well be his most sympathetic protagonist (I don't know anything about the 44 Scotland Street series, though, so I could be completely off base).
Professor Dr Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld is if anything less sympathetic than Isabel Dalhousie. He's a quirky, clueless, self-important academic who manages to get himself into very Bridget Jones-y situations. I did, however, like the books (though the over-the-top situation in At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances may have put me off reading more books in the series if there were any). They are very tongue-in-cheek and because I know more about German culture than the average American (and more than I probably care to know about academe), I was able to appreciate a lot of what AMS was going with the books.

The highlight of the series, however, has to be the case of mistaken identity in The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs. I was so amused (though, again, AMS carried it a bit too far later in the novel).


  1. I loved 'Witch Child.' The sequel 'Sorceress' takes a different route, but is still good. I need to check out more of Rees books.

  2. I have Blood Sinister here to read by Rees...I have Sorceress coming to me and also Wish House. I hope I like them!