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dhaupt
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Week 1 Discussion for Daughters of the Witching Hill

Good morning and welcome to the October featured book discussion of Daughters of the Witching Hill

I'm excited about this read, it captivated me and I hope it did you too.

Let's get started

 

 

1. The first chapter gives us an honest look at the time the novel is set, we have 3 generations of women, alone, being abused. How does this scene set the mood for the rest of the novel, what do you expect now.

2. Bess first sees Tibb her “familiar” at the age of 50, she remembers her grand-dad using blessings to cure horses – in your opinion if Bess and her family hadn’t been in such dire straights can you still see her becoming a cunning woman


3. We all know the story of Henry VIII and how he reformed the religion in England, are you up to speed on your history or are you like me and were surprised to see that it really wasn’t in full force until the reign of Elizabeth I

 

4. Despite the famine year of 1587, Bess and her family seems to be thriving, she in her new career and even Liza is getting married to an honest hard worker, however her friend Anne that we met in an earlier chapter isn’t doing so well, in fact it’s been determined by cunning that her eldest daughter Betty is a thief by the “rite of sieve and shears”, now knowing the consequences for witchcraft, why do you think the Hewitts allowed this ceremony performed in their home.

 

5. 1588 is a banner year, the Spanish try unsuccessfully to bring England into a war, and Liza gives birth to a baby boy named Jamie – Bess thinks that Jamie’s birth is a turning point away from their good fortune – have you seen signs to make you agree with Bess.

 

6. Jamie is not right, Liza blames her practice of cunning and John blames Anne, who ever is to blame one thing that surprised me was the love shown to this obviously mentally handicapped child by his family – did it surprise you too – tell us why or why not

 

7. In chapter 7 Bess comes to a turning point in her cunning ways, when she tells Annie how to create a clay doll to punish Robert Assherton for his abuse, even though Bess warns Annie not to tell her mother she does, and Bess agrees to teach Anne the craft of cunning. Up until then Bess had only used her powers for curing and blessing and she feels the strongest yet in her powers. What do your powers of foresight tell you, did she do the right thing or not.

 

8. A bad omen has happened, not only Robert Assherton, but his father also dies crying witch against Anne and Annie. Bess was afraid that her teaching cunning to Anne would come back to bite her – do you think she’s right

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PB684
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Re: Week 1 Discussion for Daughters of the Witching Hill

Good morning! These are all great, thought-provoking questions to get the discussion started. I find, however, that since I have already finished the book (7 day loan from the library) I can't really answer these without giving away the ending. I am interested to hear other's thoughts but will wait to add my 2 cents until there is a thread for the entire book. Thank you for suggesting this wonderful book...great time of year to dive into this topic!

Paula:smileyhappy:

PB684
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dhaupt
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Re: Week 1 Discussion for Daughters of the Witching Hill

 


PB684 wrote:

Good morning! These are all great, thought-provoking questions to get the discussion started. I find, however, that since I have already finished the book (7 day loan from the library) I can't really answer these without giving away the ending. I am interested to hear other's thoughts but will wait to add my 2 cents until there is a thread for the entire book. Thank you for suggesting this wonderful book...great time of year to dive into this topic!

Paula:smileyhappy:


Thanks for your honesty on this and I'll put up a thread right now.

 

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Fozzie
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Re: Week 1 Discussion for Daughters of the Witching Hill


dhaupt wrote:

 

7. In chapter 7 Bess comes to a turning point in her cunning ways, when she tells Annie how to create a clay doll to punish Robert Assherton for his abuse, even though Bess warns Annie not to tell her mother she does, and Bess agrees to teach Anne the craft of cunning. Up until then Bess had only used her powers for curing and blessing and she feels the strongest yet in her powers. What do your powers of foresight tell you, did she do the right thing or not.

 


I am not sure whether or not Bess did the right thing.  Based on what Tibb has said about choosing one path or another, I think she has made a mistake by crossing over to the other path, the dark side.  However, how could she stand by and let her friend's child be abused?  It wouldn't be right to let that go on either.  In addition, it seems as though Bess tried to take a precaution by having Annie and Anne perform their own spells.  I ended the section of reading feeling evil was on the horizon, for everyone.

Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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Fozzie
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Re: Week 1 Discussion for Daughters of the Witching Hill


dhaupt wrote:

 

6. Jamie is not right, Liza blames her practice of cunning and John blames Anne, who ever is to blame one thing that surprised me was the love shown to this obviously mentally handicapped child by his family – did it surprise you too – tell us why or why not

 


It didn't surprise me because Liza was physically imperfect too, with her squint eyes.  However, upon reading your question, I recalled that I had heard of children who "weren't right" being left for dead in the past, so I guess I should have been surprised!

Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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dhaupt
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Re: Week 1 Discussion for Daughters of the Witching Hill

 


Fozzie wrote:

dhaupt wrote:

 

7. In chapter 7 Bess comes to a turning point in her cunning ways, when she tells Annie how to create a clay doll to punish Robert Assherton for his abuse, even though Bess warns Annie not to tell her mother she does, and Bess agrees to teach Anne the craft of cunning. Up until then Bess had only used her powers for curing and blessing and she feels the strongest yet in her powers. What do your powers of foresight tell you, did she do the right thing or not.

 


I am not sure whether or not Bess did the right thing.  Based on what Tibb has said about choosing one path or another, I think she has made a mistake by crossing over to the other path, the dark side.  However, how could she stand by and let her friend's child be abused?  It wouldn't be right to let that go on either.  In addition, it seems as though Bess tried to take a precaution by having Annie and Anne perform their own spells.  I ended the section of reading feeling evil was on the horizon, for everyone.


Hi Laura, thanks for your thoughts and that's exactly how I felt, I knew from the get go that she shouldn't do it, but that she also didn't have a choice

 

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dhaupt
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Re: Week 1 Discussion for Daughters of the Witching Hill

 


Fozzie wrote:

dhaupt wrote:

 

6. Jamie is not right, Liza blames her practice of cunning and John blames Anne, who ever is to blame one thing that surprised me was the love shown to this obviously mentally handicapped child by his family – did it surprise you too – tell us why or why not

 


It didn't surprise me because Liza was physically imperfect too, with her squint eyes.  However, upon reading your question, I recalled that I had heard of children who "weren't right" being left for dead in the past, so I guess I should have been surprised!


Yes Laura, that's what I meant because so many "imperfect" children were left to die in our past history.

 

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Peppermill
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Re: Week 1 Discussion for Daughters of the Witching Hill

[ Edited ]

 


dhaupt wrote:

Fozzie wrote:

dhaupt wrote:

 

6. Jamie is not right, Liza blames her practice of cunning and John blames Anne, who ever is to blame one thing that surprised me was the love shown to this obviously mentally handicapped child by his family – did it surprise you too – tell us why or why not

 


It didn't surprise me because Liza was physically imperfect too, with her squint eyes.  However, upon reading your question, I recalled that I had heard of children who "weren't right" being left for dead in the past, so I guess I should have been surprised!


Yes Laura, that's what I meant because so many "imperfect" children were left to die in our past history.

 


They still are, especially where there are repressive laws about rights to bear children or one sex is strongly preferred over the other ("imperfect") one.  But, modern medicine and legal stuctures also make possible decisions on whether to carry certain abnormalities to term.

 

 

It didn't surprise me that an imperfect child was loved for several reasons, among them that Liza was loved, Tibb had admonished Bess to love her grandchild, and rural/medieval societies had acceptance and roles for abnormal children and adults different than societies with high demands for intellectual prowess.  In addition, while I don't know the historic details and development by the 1500's of this story, the "old religion," the Catholic faith, has a particularly strong history of valuing life of the child, even oft at the risk to the mother.

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Peppermill
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Re: Week 1 Discussion for Daughters of the Witching Hill

[ Edited ]

3. We all know the story of Henry VIII and how he reformed the religion in England, are you up to speed on your history or are you like me and were surprised to see that it really wasn’t in full force until the reign of Elizabeth I.

 

I have long been an aficionada of Queen Elizabeth I, with a long hiatus since I have read much about her reign.  But, I did just recently watch several films and was reminded of the back and forth in religious loyalties, especially since Henry VII's first wife, Catherine of Aragon, was from (Catholic) Spain and transmitted her upbringing to their daughter Mary I, who restored Catholicism to England.  The films emphasized the both the political and religious fears associated with Mary, Queen of Scots, possibly claiming the throne, leading eventually to her execution despite Elizabeth's vacillating orders.  Although belonging to an earlier time, T.S. Eliot's "Murder in the Cathedral" has long been a set piece for me about the struggles between secular and relgious power.  Also, I recently listened to Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel's view of Cromwell's perspectives on the period.  When we visited Amsterdam, we saw the "house chapels" where Catholic worship continued long after officially banned.  So, while I was not surprised to find the adherents to the "old religion", I was intrigued by the aspects described as being especially missed by the "ordinary" people, from the roodscreen to the festivals to the veneration of the saints to the assumptions about purgatory (and the poor) versus the elect.  

"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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dhaupt
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Re: Week 1 Discussion for Daughters of the Witching Hill

 


Peppermill wrote:

3. We all know the story of Henry VIII and how he reformed the religion in England, are you up to speed on your history or are you like me and were surprised to see that it really wasn’t in full force until the reign of Elizabeth I.

 

I have long been an aficionada of Queen Elizabeth I, with a long hiatus since I have read much about her reign.  But, I did just recently watch several films and was reminded of the back and forth in religious loyalties, especially since Henry VII's first wife, Catherine of Aragon, was from (Catholic) Spain and transmitted her upbringing to their daughter Mary I, who restored Catholicism to England.  The films emphasized the both the political and religious fears associated with Mary, Queen of Scots, possibly claiming the throne, leading eventually to her execution despite Elizabeth's vacillating orders.  Although belonging to an earlier time, T.S. Eliot's "Murder in the Cathedral" has long been a set piece for me about the struggles between secular and relgious power.  Also, I recently listened to Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel's view of Cromwell's perspectives on the period.  When we visited Amsterdam, we saw the "house chapels" where Catholic worship continued long after officially banned.  So, while I was not surprised to find the adherents to the "old religion", I was intrigued by the aspects described as being especially missed by the "ordinary" people, from the roodscreen to the festivals to the veneration of the saints to the assumptions about purgatory (and the poor) versus the elect.  


 

Pepper, thank you for all the suggestions you just gave me on updating my history of this time.

I don't know about you or the rest of the panel here, but while I was in school I abhorred history and it's only been recently that it's really started to intrigue me to the point of searching out more about what I missed as a teen.

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Fozzie
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Re: Week 1 Discussion for Daughters of the Witching Hill


Peppermill wrote:

So, while I was not surprised to find the adherents to the "old religion", I was intrigued by the aspects described as being especially missed by the "ordinary" people, from the roodscreen to the festivals to the veneration of the saints to the assumptions about purgatory (and the poor) versus the elect.  


I have read several of Philippa Gregory's books on Henry VIII and his wives, so I am familiar with the situation in general.  I, too, like Pepper, enjoyed the different perspective that this book provided, the perspective of the common, rural people.  I am getting a taste for just how interwoven the rites of religion were in their lives.  The change in the religion dictated by the government really did affect people's everyday lives and their rhythms of the seasons.

Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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Crzy4Luke
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Re: Week 1 Discussion for Daughters of the Witching Hill

I think it depends on the intention.  Bess was concerned about her friends and wanted to help protect them in the only way she knew how.  Her heart was in the right place but her actions may not have been right. I'm not sure that she crossed over to "the dark side" because her only thought was to help and protect those she loved and don't we all do that at one point or time in our lives?

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Re: Week 1 Discussion for Daughters of the Witching Hill


dhaupt wrote:

 

2. Bess first sees Tibb her “familiar” at the age of 50, she remembers her grand-dad using blessings to cure horses – in your opinion if Bess and her family hadn’t been in such dire straights can you still see her becoming a cunning woman

 


 

I think that Bess might have used her powers in secret, for family members only, if she and her family weren't in dire straits.  I think it was only because of their desperate situation that she risked "putting herself out there" as a cunning woman.  She knew the risks of being found out, but acted based on survival.

 

Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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ReadingPatti
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Re: Week 1 Discussion for Daughters of the Witching Hill

dhaupt, Hi, Patti here.

 

1) It lets us know what these women are up against. They don't have a man to protect them and they do what they must to just survive. You also see what those times were like.

 

2) Yes, Bess seems like that type of woman. She knows her own mind and what she wants.

 

3) I am not sure. I was under the impression that Henry and the church were always arguing about his actions and what he did to his wives.

 

4) Yes, for some reason Anne decided to turn to the dark sight of withcraft. I am not sure why. If we had more history on her background perhaps it would have told us why she did what she did. It also seems that she did not have a control over her daughter, Betty. She made excuses for her. I think Betty saw something of evil and embarassed that side of witchcraft.

 

5) Yes, Jamie was mentally challenged. Bess knew that things were going to get worse for them. I think she saw a sign that did not mean well for them.

 

6) No, from what I know of mentally challenged people, they are very loving and caring. They usually just want to give and receive love.

 

7) I think something needed to be done about Robert. I am not sure that making the clay picture was the best choice but I am not sure what else they could have done considering he was a member of a rich family.

 

8) Perhaps. But during that time, Robert and his father could have gotten sick. Robert's father could have had a stroke and some other medical condition that doctors back then did not know about. Robert and is father could have let their imaginations get away from them. They feared witchcraft and they could have gotten sick by not taking care of themselves.

 

Debbie, these are just my thoughts about the book.

 

ReadingPatti

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dhaupt
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Re: Week 1 Discussion for Daughters of the Witching Hill

 


ReadingPatti wrote:

dhaupt, Hi, Patti here.

 

1) It lets us know what these women are up against. They don't have a man to protect them and they do what they must to just survive. You also see what those times were like.

 

2) Yes, Bess seems like that type of woman. She knows her own mind and what she wants.

 

3) I am not sure. I was under the impression that Henry and the church were always arguing about his actions and what he did to his wives.

 

4) Yes, for some reason Anne decided to turn to the dark sight of withcraft. I am not sure why. If we had more history on her background perhaps it would have told us why she did what she did. It also seems that she did not have a control over her daughter, Betty. She made excuses for her. I think Betty saw something of evil and embarassed that side of witchcraft.

 

5) Yes, Jamie was mentally challenged. Bess knew that things were going to get worse for them. I think she saw a sign that did not mean well for them.

 

6) No, from what I know of mentally challenged people, they are very loving and caring. They usually just want to give and receive love.

 

7) I think something needed to be done about Robert. I am not sure that making the clay picture was the best choice but I am not sure what else they could have done considering he was a member of a rich family.

 

8) Perhaps. But during that time, Robert and his father could have gotten sick. Robert's father could have had a stroke and some other medical condition that doctors back then did not know about. Robert and is father could have let their imaginations get away from them. They feared witchcraft and they could have gotten sick by not taking care of themselves.

 

Debbie, these are just my thoughts about the book.

 

ReadingPatti


Thanks for your thoughts Patti!!

 

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Mountain_Muse
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Re: Week 1 Discussion for Daughters of the Witching Hill


dhaupt wrote:

 


Peppermill wrote:

3. We all know the story of Henry VIII and how he reformed the religion in England, are you up to speed on your history or are you like me and were surprised to see that it really wasn’t in full force until the reign of Elizabeth I.

 

I have long been an aficionada of Queen Elizabeth I, with a long hiatus since I have read much about her reign.  But, I did just recently watch several films and was reminded of the back and forth in religious loyalties, especially since Henry VII's first wife, Catherine of Aragon, was from (Catholic) Spain and transmitted her upbringing to their daughter Mary I, who restored Catholicism to England.  The films emphasized the both the political and religious fears associated with Mary, Queen of Scots, possibly claiming the throne, leading eventually to her execution despite Elizabeth's vacillating orders.  Although belonging to an earlier time, T.S. Eliot's "Murder in the Cathedral" has long been a set piece for me about the struggles between secular and religious power.  Also, I recently listened to Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel's view of Cromwell's perspectives on the period.  When we visited Amsterdam, we saw the "house chapels" where Catholic worship continued long after officially banned.  So, while I was not surprised to find the adherents to the "old religion", I was intrigued by the aspects described as being especially missed by the "ordinary" people, from the roodscreen to the festivals to the veneration of the saints to the assumptions about purgatory (and the poor) versus the elect.  


 

Pepper, thank you for all the suggestions you just gave me on updating my history of this time.

I don't know about you or the rest of the panel here, but while I was in school I abhorred history and it's only been recently that it's really started to intrigue me to the point of searching out more about what I missed as a teen.


Debbie, as you know from another group we participated in together, history, especially church history has been a bit of a hobby for many years.  During the period of time that this book was written, as well as the millennia prior, "The Church" and Politics were so intertwined that it is difficult to view or discuss the two separately. 

Our dear King Henry VIII broke long standing practice and model of balance of power when he decided to create his own "version" of "the church".  The common man was caught up in the net in the tug-of-war between the factions that were struggling for power.  There are many great works out by many great authors that explore this period from the multi-faceted points of view, including that of the lowly peasant that was drug back and forth with little understanding other than they could or could not : be married, baptized, buried, or any of the other rights that they based their faith and path to eternity on.

Even with these deep beliefs, many of the lower class never gave up the "old" religion that dated back into pre-history.  The practices were passed down within the families and not readily shared beyond the door of the family home, except with those they trusted.  They intermingled these practices and stories in with their Catholicism creating a unique practice that allowed the arts of the ages to remain and be practiced, as long as they did not interfere with the politically accepted faith of the day.  Catholicism turned a blind eye to the practices, but the newer Anglican Church of England was not so tolerant.

 

The important thing to remember is that politics and religion were one and the same, but the common man only understood the affect on them and their religion.

 

It is at this point that I think our story opens.

 

Mountain_Muse

A really good book is much like an artichoke. As you peel back each page of the of the book, you get closer and closer to the succulent heart of the story.
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Darbys_Closet
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Re: Week 1 Discussion for Daughters of the Witching Hill

Oh I love these thought provoking questions and with time I will answer...

I just wanted to share that at first it took me a while to get into this book due to the "tongue" yet now I can't wait for every spare minute to read more and more of it ..Thank you for sharing this read with me/us!

I really think this book would make a great movie!  Can't you just imagine in your mind these characters and then once in your mind how easily for them to be played out on stage or screen!!

I'll be back!

Darby

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Re: Week 1 Discussion for Daughters of the Witching Hill

Darby,

 

For help with the "lingo", go to the Words string.  Pepper is assisting us with the etimomolgy of the 17th century words, so we can be clued in on what the characters are "really" talking about.  There's a whole 'nother discussion happening there also.

 

Enjoy

 

Mtn_Muse

A really good book is much like an artichoke. As you peel back each page of the of the book, you get closer and closer to the succulent heart of the story.
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dhaupt
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Re: Week 1 Discussion for Daughters of the Witching Hill

 


Darbys_Closet wrote:

Oh I love these thought provoking questions and with time I will answer...

I just wanted to share that at first it took me a while to get into this book due to the "tongue" yet now I can't wait for every spare minute to read more and more of it ..Thank you for sharing this read with me/us!

I really think this book would make a great movie!  Can't you just imagine in your mind these characters and then once in your mind how easily for them to be played out on stage or screen!!

I'll be back!

Darby


Thanks Darby for the compliment on my questions, I try to come up with them with the hopes that the members will get something from them. Chime in whenever you can and I will look forward to your comments.

 

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dhaupt
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Re: Week 1 Discussion for Daughters of the Witching Hill

 


Mountain_Muse wrote:

Darby,

 

For help with the "lingo", go to the Words string.  Pepper is assisting us with the etimomolgy of the 17th century words, so we can be clued in on what the characters are "really" talking about.  There's a whole 'nother discussion happening there also.

 

Enjoy

 

Mtn_Muse


Thanks for pointing this out Karen, I love the thread Pepper started.