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The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane (edition 2009)

by Katherine Howe

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2,9712781,927 (3.67)245
Member:Tbrown33
Title:The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
Authors:Katherine Howe
Info:Voice (2009), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 384 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:None

Work details

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

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English (276)  Dutch (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (278)
Showing 1-5 of 276 (next | show all)
This book started out great; all solid historical fiction. But them about 3/4 of the way through it became just silly with the introduction of magic. It was as if another author took over at this point ( )
  schwager | Sep 16, 2014 |
This was a book that I picked up on a whim at the library. It's about a woman who is looking for a dissertation topic and ends up researching her family history, starting with Deliverance Dane who was hung as a witch in the Salem witch trials. It was a good summer read, but nothing earth-shattering. I thought the story and history part were interesting, but the present-day characters were not done very well. In particular, the main character, Connie, really annoyed me. She is presented as a very intelligent Harvard doctoral candidate and yet the most obvious things take her pages and pages to figure out. For instance, she's reading a woman's diary from the 1700s and reads multiple fragments like "Visit Hannah Glover. She is deliverd of a girl. Rec'd 3 lbs. coffee". Obviously this woman was a midwife. Well, 3 pages later the doctoral candidate says, "Of course! Prudence was a midwife!". Um, duh. Things like that happen way too often in this book.

Overall, I'd say if you expect nothing but a diversion, you'll be satisfied ( )
  japaul22 | Aug 7, 2014 |
This was an okay weekend read. I think I was most turned off by the fact that Connie herself winds up having these magical powers - if it had stayed away from that angle, I would have enjoyed it more. The premise was really interesting - grad student stumbles upon undiscovered Salem witch (all the more interesting to me, being from MA), and has to hunt down her ancient book of spells, etc., and discover her story. But then it's - "Oh, by the way, she's your ancestor and you're a witch. Your mom is too, but she never bothered to tell you any of this. AND every time a woman in your family falls in love, hubby dies in a terrible freak accident." I guess it was just a little too much.

Not bad if you're looking for something to entertain you, or if you're super interested in the Salem trials. It could be pretty predictable, and Connie wasn't too smart herself sometimes - I mean, reading the journal, it's only after five entries that mention delivering babies that she catches on the girl is a midwife. Really? I thought it was a given right off the bat with the first entry, and then two pages later this comes to her as some kind of an epiphany.

I also wish a bit more time was spent on Deliverance's side of the story, and on the book itself - she finally finds it, and we really don't get much about it. Overall, just an okay read. ( )
  bookwormam | Jul 8, 2014 |
What if the women who were put to death during the Salem Witch Trials were actually witches?

Yeah, it's a pretty unoriginal premise, and this bland book lives up to it. Between a straightforward A-to-B plot, characters whose role in the story is apparent from the first time they're introduced, and dialogue that once actually includes the sentence "And we all know what happened next" followed by an explanation of what happened next -- the as-you-know-Bobiest line since "as you know, Bob" -- I was constantly rolling my eyes.

Nothing this book does well is not done better by some other, more fun, more thought-provoking book. That said, I read it through to the end, so I suppose it is not entirely virtue-less. ( )
  ellen.w | Jun 1, 2014 |
What if the women who were put to death during the Salem Witch Trials were actually witches?

Yeah, it's a pretty unoriginal premise, and this bland book lives up to it. Between a straightforward A-to-B plot, characters whose role in the story is apparent from the first time they're introduced, and dialogue that once actually includes the sentence "And we all know what happened next" followed by an explanation of what happened next -- the as-you-know-Bobiest line since "as you know, Bob" -- I was constantly rolling my eyes.

Nothing this book does well is not done better by some other, more fun, more thought-provoking book. That said, I read it through to the end, so I suppose it is not entirely virtue-less. ( )
  ellen.w | Jun 1, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 276 (next | show all)
I absolutely love the setup of having someone in the present investigating a story from the past, with the action moving between the two periods, but so very few authors do it well and get the balance right. Howe is one of those few. The action takes place mostly in the present, with the sparse sections set at the times of Deliverance and her descendents exactly enough to enrich the investigation and mirror and illustrate some of the developments in Connie's story.

I also loved that Connie had to do proper detective work to uncover what had gone on in Deliverance's time. The last few books I read with this setup ...had the present-day protagonist just stumbling on stuff, and then doing nothing more strenuous than reading a diary. Connie isn't so lucky. She has to follow up on all sorts of sources, and since the book is set in 1991, this doesn't mean just going online and running a few searches. She needs to actually visit a variety of places and consult a whole lot of potential documents, from church archives to probate records, and when she does find something, she needs to interpret and decode what ambiguous records might mean and imply. ...

Something I really ended up liking, though were the relationships in the book. There are a few false steps in the characterisations at the beginning, with people sounding a bit off... Howe soon hits her stride, and things feel much more natural. I liked Connie and Sam's romance, but I think my favourite was the way Howe develops the concept of mother-daughter relationships
 
"The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane" is smart, and Howe's research translates into a vividly imagined narrative. The social forces driving Deliverance's life come alive, as do the realities of the not so distant pre-Internet and cellphone realities of Connie's world. The novel is a page-turner, but the characters, not the plot, dominate... The novel's weakness lies in the final pages, which beg credulity. That flaw shouldn't be a deal-killer. "The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane," up to that point, not only goes down smoothly but raises questions about society, and what might be taken for magic, that linger after the final page is turned.
 
“The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane” does indeed perform a work of magic. Through a type of literary alchemy the current interest in novels tied to the Salem witch trial (“The Heretic’s Daughter” by Kathleen Kent and “The Lace Reader” by Brunonia Barry are just two examples), commingles with the plot of A.S. Byatt’s “Possession” (in which a graduate student stumbles upon a secret powerful enough to upend recorded history) and produces a new compound – in this case, one powerful enough to deliver a charming summer read.
 
In her provocative debut novel, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, Katherine Howe pairs a scholarly search for a missing book with the thrill of spine-tingling witchery.
 
I liked this book very much, but I want to ask the author's editor to please, in the future, keep her from wrapping or folding her characters' arms around their middles. And also point out that Connie's shoulder bag gets dropped on the floor so often it begins to sound like a character itself. But these are minor complaints. And by the end of this book, as any graduate student should, Katherine Howe has filled us in on much more than we used to know about that group of unfortunate women who paid the price of their lives due to a town's irrational fears.
 
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Epigraph
"I watch'd today as Giles Corey was presst to death between the stones. He had lain so for two days mute. With each stone they tolde him he must plead, lest more rocks be added. But he only whisperd, More weight. Standing in the crowde I found Goodwyfe Dane, who, as the last stone lower'd, went white, grippt my hand, and wept."

--Letter fragment dated "Salem Towne, September 16, 1692"
Division of Rare Manuscripts, Boston Athenaeum
Dedication
For my family
First words
Peter Petford slipped a long wooden spoon into the simmering iron pot of lentils hanging over the fire and tried to push the worry from his stomach.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane (U.S.) is also known as The Lost Book of Salem (U.K.)
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Book description
Connie Goodwin should be spending her summer doing research for her Ph.D. dissertation in American History. But when her mother asks her to handle the sale of Connie's grandmother's abandoned home near Salem, shes's compelled to help. One day, while exploring the dusty bookshelves in the study, Connie discovers an ancient key, and within the key is a brittle slip of paper with two words written on it: Deliverance Dane. Along with a handsome steeplejack named Sam, Connie begins to research Deliverance Dane. But even as the pieces fall into place, Connie is haunted by visions of long ago, and she fears that she is more tied to Salem's dark past than she could have ever imangined.
Haiku summary
Connie discovers
Key in granny's cottage and
Descent from witches.
(passion4reading)

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While readying her grandmother's abandoned home for sale, Connie Goodwin discovers an ancient key in a seventeenth-century Bible with a scrap of parchment bearing the name Deliverance Dane. In her quest to discover who this woman was and seeking a rare artifact--a physick book--Connie begins to feel haunted by visions of the long-ago witch trials and fears that she may be more tied to Salem's past than she could have imagined.… (more)

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Hyperion and Voice

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Editions: 1401340903, 1401341330

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