Monday, November 9, 2009

Book Club: The Heretic's Daugther Discussion Post

Ok, book-clubbers! It is that time again. Actually, its past the date I had set, but I needed a bit of an extension and forgot to tell ya'll about it :)
This month, we read The Heretic's Daugther by Kathleen Kent. The book was set in a town not far from Salem, Mass. at the time of the Salem Witch Trials. I thought it would be a seasonly-appropriate book for Halloween.
So, let's give it a stab and DISCUSS!
1. What was your overall impression of the book? Love it? Hate it? Stopped reading in the middle of it? (ahem, Patty!)
2. What do you think of the character development? Were there any characters that you felt the author should have spent more time on? What about the main character Sarah?
3. Who were the "villians" of the story?
4. How did Tom's history play into the story?
5. If your mom had given you the opportunity to divulge all your complaints to her at the age of 12, would you have done it? Why do you think Sarah didn't want to?
6. What shocked you most about this book?
7. Did this book change your mind about the Salem Witch Trials and the people accused?
8. If you were Martha Carrier, would you have "confessed," or stood your ground to the truth even though you knew you would die for it?
9. If you were Sarah, would you have "confessed" or given testimony against your mother?
10. Closing thoughts?


  1. I was pretty "eh" about this book. It rambled on FOREVER before getting to the "meat" of the story. In fact, I felt like there never really was a climax at all! And the ending was kind of abrupt and didn't really tie in to the rest of the story.

    A few specific complaints:
    1. she never really developed the characters of some of the "key" players - the Rev. Barnard, Richard and Pheobe.
    2. the descriptions of the trials weren't vivid enough for me to really "feel" like I was there.
    3. the plot line was too well-exposed leading up, there were no surprises!

    I did think she did a pretty good job of developing Sarah and Martha's characters though.

    What bugged me was that she talked about Tom's history all throughout the story as if its were a big component and a big secret. But when it really did come out, she didn't really tell you anything more than what you'd already learned through the "gossip" and it, again, was totally anti-climatic.

    I think the real villians of the story were the educated men like Rev. Barnard and the "judges" and "jurors" who, let's be honest, knew that the evidence against these people was seriously lacking. And yet, hung dozens. It seriously kills me to think the type of evidence they accepted as "proof" of witchcraft.

    This book sort of changed my view of the types of people who were accused of witchcraft. I can definitely see why Martha Carrier was - she was contrary and seemed to fuel the fires of suspicion against her. But Rev. Dane's family? (probably just revenge). No one was safe.

    I have no idea what I'd have done if I were Martha. I think my fear for my children would be enough to drive me to a false confession, if I knew it would spare me for their sake. Its hard to say, not being there and all (thanking God I live in the 21st century...).

  2. I totally agree with what Elle said about the book. I kept waiting for the story to tie together or have this grand plot exposed. But it just kind of fizzled and faded the whole book repeatedly!

    I never knew much about the Salem Witch trials. This did shed some light on a topic that what many seem to believe was a spooky and haunting time. I heard people talk about the women and girls who were thought to be witches but were afflicted with such diseases as epilepsy or severe PMS even. But to think that educated men deemed them (and men as well)as witches and devil worshipers just on the word of idiot gossiping girls!

    Overall, the book was a bit boring but an easy read nonetheless. Not a topic I would be drawn too either.