Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

This is another of those stories that was simple enough to enjoy as a fifth-grader - but complex enough in theme for me to enjoy as an adult. It examines Puritan culture through the eyes of a complete outsider.

Kit Tyler was raised in the tropical paradise of Barbados by an indulgent grandfather. When he dies, her only options are marriage to a man she doesn't love or a long trip to the cold shores of Connecticut, where an aunt she has never met immigrated with her family years ago. She chooses the latter - having no idea of the culture-shock she's about to experience.

In stern Connecticut Colony, life is all about clean, sober living and manual labor. A woman who shows up in colorful silks, as Kit does, is viewed as highly suspect. She even knows how to swim! Everyone knows only witches can float in water!

But fortunately, Kit is able to meet some like-minded souls. There's an abused little girl, a ship captain's son - and Hannah, the old Quaker woman who lives as a hermit down by Blackbird Pond. Kit's friendships with them make life bearable, but they make her neighbors distrust her even more... Maybe even enough to think she's casting spells about town.

It's when her life is on the line that she discovers where she truly belongs.

Great book, that still has a lot of relevant things to say.

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