Monday, December 15, 2008

Book Reviews

I've finished a few books lately, so here are some reviews.

The Heretics Daughter, by Kathleen Kent

I finished this book in two days. It was THAT good. It is the story of Martha Carrier, who was accused of witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials in 1692. It is told from the perspective of her oldest daughter, Sarah. And the book was written by a direct descendant of the two women, which I thought was very interesting. How cool to have such a notable figure in your lineage.

This book made me very grateful that I didn't live during these times. Notwithstanding the cold miserable conditions in the winters, the heat in the summer, the lack of good transportation and plumbing, people were mean and superstitious, and that doesn't seem to be a good combination. If your neighbor's cow died after you looked at him cross-eyed, you were a witch. If you had a sharp-witted tongue and weren't afraid to use it, you were a witch. It is a scary concept, and downright shameful that so many innocent lives were lost due to the testimony of untrustworthy individuals.

But I still enjoyed the story. Sarah is a compelling character. Although she seems older than her 10 years (authors do that so often; how is it that so many youthful characters can understand adult concepts so easily?), her growth through the novel was believable. It was interesting to watch how she came to understand and love her mother, despite Martha's prickly and un-loveable nature. The book did a great job of showing that even those mothers who don't show a lot of affection still love their children fiercely, and will sacrifice themselves so their children can have more. Read it. It's good.

The Friday Night Knitting Club, by Kate Jacobs

I'm not as excited about this book as I wanted to be. I'd heard good things from it, and so I was really hoping for a lot, but I didn't feel I got it. This is the story of Georgia Walker, who is a single mom and owner of a knitting-supply store. Her store becomes the hang-out for an eclectic group of knitters who become the Friday Night Knitting club (I know, it's a far-out concept!) The book details bits of their lives, how they overcome their current problems, blah blah blah. What I discovered half way through was that it was the same story as Mamma Mia, but with far to many characters and without all the awesome music. Sad.

I thought the author tried to do too much with the book. Between the long-lost lover that suddenly comes back into the mom/daughter's life, the discovery of mutual love on all three sides (mom, dad, child), the get-back-to-your-roots-and-discover-your-life's meaning vacation to Scotland, and the life-threatening disease while remaining the heart-and-soul of the knitting club (all things that happen to the main character!), I thought I should be reading something along the lines of Gone with the Wind. But I wasn't. It was just too much stuff happening to one character for it to be believable. And the sub-plots weren't interesting enough to add to the story.

I feel so bad writing a bad review. But I just didn't enjoy this one.