Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

by Elizabeth George Speare, 1958

Connecticut, spring 1687. No one is less suited to be here than Kit Tyler. She grew up in Barbados, used to blue skies, warm seas, a library full of poetry and plays, and all the work done by slaves. Connecticut offers frigid rivers that no one swims in, hard work for everyone from sunup to sundown, and plays are taboo. Practically the only reading material is the Bible (which gets somewhat short shrift in this otherwise excellent book). It also offers some unexpected solaces.

Kit, who had to sell her family’s estate in Barbados to pay off her grandfather’s debts, is as repelled by the harsh and forbidding New Englanders as they are scandalized by her. Nevertheless, her uncle, aunt and cousins welcome her to live with them, and we quickly see that the Puritans in this story are no caricatures. They have varied personalities and complex characters.

This book has everything … tangled love triangles, a dramatic trial scene (guess what kind?), and cameos by historical figures. If, like me, you like to read about the New World colonists when Fall comes around, check out this Newberry Medal winner.

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