03-30-2009 12:26 PM
Out of all the characters, I like Grace the least. I find it hard to understand her lack of interest in her daughter's career. I felt bad for Connie after the phone call on the day of her oral exams, and the way that she tried so hard to sympathize and understand with her mother's lack of interest (p. 28).
I agree that Arlo might be Connie's familiar and that Arlo might be related to Deliverance's dog, either as the same dog or of the same lineage. I'd love to hear more about Arlo & Connie and Deliverance and her dog as the story progresses.
The vivid daydreams seem to be flashes into the past. It sounds as though Sophia, Mercy and Connie might be related to Deliverance and Mercy and also share whatever magical or similar sort of powers that they had. Connie was always fighting against the "free spiritedness" of her mother and so it is only now that she's spending the summer in their old house in Marblehead, reading about Deliverance and surrounded by Sophia's belongings and their older items that she might be discovering this side of herself/her legacy.
Will read some more!
03-30-2009 12:55 PM
I am really drawn to the cross-examinations of both Connie and Deliverance. Both are fighting for their proverbial lives; both knowing this fight will make or break them. Men figure prominently in both scenes as those holding the keys to their future. We find that Connie makes it through her grilling, while the complete explanation of Deliverance's fate is still up in the air.
I love the way you put this! It's exactly what I was thinking in the back of my mind, yet was struggling to put into words.
03-30-2009 01:02 PM
I am tempted to believe that Deliverance's dog, "an attentive, disheveled-looking little dog, some dingy color between brown and tan" which Deliverance couldn't have carried with her to the Petford's, and Arlo, who's little, of indeterminate breed, and "an indistinct, dingy color something between mud and leaves" who "materialized from under the shrubbery" one day and has stuck with Connie ever since, are actually the same dog (6, 24).
Oh my! What an AHA moment for me (I'm sure there will be many more to come). This thought never crossed my mind, but I bet you're right!
03-30-2009 01:05 PM
I think Connie and Liz’s friendship is probably one of the most realistic relationships I’ve seen in the book so far. I love the way they balance each other out and compliment each other. Liz is one of my favorite characters besides Connie and Deliverance so far.
As soon as we met Arlo, I felt he is either a descendent of the dog Deliverance has or the same dog, I definitely think Connie is related to Deliverance.
Connie is having visions, I think each “witch” has it’s own power and that is Connie’s. I also think the garden is still thriving partly because of each of the previous owner’s abilities. Also, as for the house, if Connie and Liz had such a hard time even finding the house to begin with, why isn’t it believable that it didn’t bother the neighbors? I don’t have a hard time with that aspect, although the running water was a bit of a stretch, maybe it’s witchcraft at work??
At this point I feel like Professor Chilton knows something about Connie’s history. I don’t really feel he is evil, but just trying to prod her in the right direction. I can see that he is up to something, and maybe he needs her to “unlock” her ancestors secrets for his own gain, which is not very nice, but not exactly evil.
03-30-2009 01:07 PM
Oh come on, guys! The book requires the reader all along to suspend disbelief, right? I, too, like things "neat" but those details are pretty minor in the scheme (plot) of things.
Maybe the house had a well (non-electric). And why can't the garden be as magical as some of the characters?
I also wanted to second this comment!!
03-30-2009 01:22 PM
I very much wanted to like the book. I, like many people, am fascinated by the Salem witch trials. Unfortunately the first chapters were a real turn-off. There are several reason for this. The scene where Liz and Connie investigate the old house is totally unrealistic. I couldn't believe the author and editor didn't have any idea what happens to water pipes in a house that's been closed up for twenty years. Trust me, you don't just turn on the faucet and get brown water. The girls would have been more likely to find the upstairs bathroom and the down stairs kitchen completely destroyed by water. Water has to get into the house some way. Since there's no electricity, it can't be an electric pump. There's no mention of a hand pump. Therefore, it has to be city water. If the water isn't turned off, the pipes freeze in the winter in Massachusettes. When they freeze, they break.Water damage is extremely expensive to repair. I doubt there would be much left of the house.
A second observation is the garden. After twenty years there would be so many weeds, the plants would probably not be rcognizable without a lot of work. I've seen gardens that were untended for five years and all you could see were thistles and tall grasses. Perhaps we're supposed to believe that Sophie put a spell on the house. Not too realistic unless this book is supposed to be a fantasy or scifi.
About the beds, the girls apparently didn't bring sheets. Has anyone seen what happens to a bed left for twenty years in an empty house? There would be more problems than a green snake like try rats and mice.
I'm sorry to be so critical, but the lack of attention to detail in someone who has a research profession (I read that Ms. Howe was a Ph.D. candidate.) is disturbing.
You are right to have these questions, but I have to disagree. All of the unrealistic things; garden, water, etc. are part of the supernatural aspect in the story. My suspicions are there is more to it than we are privvy to at this time.
I have admit, the thought that these things were inconsistent with "reality" never crossed my mind until I read several posts on this subject today. Upon further speculation, I think it's because I too assumed it was a part of the supernatural aspect of the (fictional) story. To me the entire setting of Sophia's estate is more than a little enchanted.
03-30-2009 01:30 PM
I would have to say that Liz and Sam are my favorites so far. I like the relaxed interaction that they have with Connie. Connie seems to be lacking in some social areas of her life, such as having a boyfriend and a mother who cares about her. These characters help complete her in some ways, they make Connie think outside her own little box. Connie and Liz understand that their strengths and weakness are not the same, but when together they offset each others weakness to make them both stronger young women. While all the characters are not warm and fuzzy, I like all of them; even professor Chilton who is less than kind to Connie is able to offer us a different prospective on some of the subjects in the story.
Looking for the truth should enable you to provide facts and evidence that a wrongful act was committed, that others can also see in order to come to an inescapable conclusion. The witches in these trails where just a means to an end for the people judging them, there was no truth involved.
Much like the oral exams that Connie must take, the professors are able to control who passes and who doesn’t by what questions they ask of the student, knowing their weaknesses. They can choose some little known, obscure fact and ask you to explain it, knowing it can’t be done. Knowing the stress would drive to break and fail. In both settings intimidation was also a big factor.
Connie and Liz are both book smart young women, and not as sharp when it comes to common sense.
Arlo seems like he has just found his long lost master, and he’s not letting Connie out of his sight, much to her dislike. This is actually good for Connie she needs to have that outside the book world responsibility and relationship. On the drive to Grannas house Arlo acts like he not only knows where they are going, but that he’s been there before. I couldn’t help but feel that Arlo was coming home when they arrived at the house. He acted more than just familiar with the place, to the point that he has to lead Connie and Liz to through the gate to find the house.
Connie’s vivid dreams are more like flashbacks to a previous life that she is somehow connected to. She could be connected through the house, land or the people past and present in her own family.
Sam tells her that the etching on a granite marker could have been a charm to keep evil away. This would be evidence that someone was at least trying to practicing magic. He used logic and proof to make her rethink her position.
03-30-2009 01:31 PM
I disagree. Professor Chilton is my favorite character so far. There is a mystery about him and I am eager to find out what his role in the story will be. I agree he is a "snake", but I am eager to read more about him as the book progresses. I initially thought he might just want to claim credit for being Connie's mentor if she finds a new source for her thesis. After I read about his heated phone call about the project for the Colonial Association, I think he may steal her information if she finds anything important. I want to know more about him.
03-30-2009 01:35 PM
It seems odd to me though that Connie and Liz wouldn't notice that things are "off" in the house. If Connie had said to Liz, "Wow, it sure is strange things are blooming in the garden in early June, and we have running water in a non-electrified house that's been abandoned for twenty years!", I totally would've gone with the idea that the house was bewitched. But the fact that the characters don't notice it leaves me reason to believe it is an oversight on the author's and editor's part.
I too originally was put off by the house and garden scene. But after rereading (and I'm only through Chapter 3) I decided to go with the notion the Joan indicated and assume the house was bewitched.
03-30-2009 01:36 PM
Oops! I meant to reference CathyB's post in my previous post. I like Professor Chilton because he is an interesting character. I am not sure of his motives yet. He seems to be a snake in the grass, but time will tell. He does seem to have something to hide and I look forward to the passages involving him so that I can find out more.
The character I like the least is Professor Chilton. Although Peter is causing considerable pain fo Deliverance, I feel that he is not doing it maliciously - he is overwrought with grief and guilt about losing his only child and is lashing out. Things obviously will spiral out of control. Professor Chilton has a 'slimey' quality about him. Not something I can actually put my finger on but, more of an impression. Based on his comment at the end of the orals and his subsequent meeting with Connie, prompting her to find that 'original' source, I think that he is up to something. As I have the tendency to think the worst of people and since I have been in a similar position in the work environment, I beleive that he will attempt to steal her idea/work.
I do like Deliverance eventhough the character has yet to be fully flushed out. Connie and Liz have an interesting dynamic. Liz brings Connie 'down to earth' when Connie is either 'dreaming of the past' or holding herself on the outside of a situation. I think that Liz and Connie fit in perfectly at Harvard. They are PhD candidates which does isolate themselves a bit from the rest of the student body and from the professors as they have not yet gained accessinto this exclusive arena.
I think that Arlo and Connie have a nice relationship. He definitely reminds me of the dog from the past and I have a feeling that not only is Connie related to Deliverance but, that Arlo is of the same line of dogs as the original one. I find him to be a sort of 'guide' to Connie - one of conscience and in other ways - finding the house, the mandrake root, etc...
Truth is subjective to the times. When science was not playing a major role, religion, emotion (specially fear) and politics played the major roles in determining the outcome. In the coutroom, it was hearsay, religion and fear of the unknown that lead to the accusations and the subsequent testimonies. What could not be explained (i.e. medicine) had to be either God's will or a demon's. During the oral exam, truth has a 'purer' form. It is based on all that is known from the past. Viewing both facts and analyses of others and then drawing a logical conclusion. Emotion does not have a role.
I think that Sam has given Connie the opportunity to find her 'passion' once again for research. His take that witchcraft could have been real has yet to seriously change Connie's opinion on withcraft but, it may have opened her up to the possibility that all she knows is not all there is to know. Granted, she has heard the comment before about whether or not witchcraft was 'real' (i.e. from Professor Chilton during the oral exam) but, always brushed it aside citing references to dispute that position. I believe that she just may have started to allow the possibiity because she likes him.
03-30-2009 01:39 PM
So far I agree with most everyone's thoughts and criticisms about the book.
The neglected garden filled with edible fruits and vegetables at the wrong time of year.
Water flowing in a house long abandoned. Even a well will fill up with sediment if not used for a long period.
The similarities of the dogs, yes, they must play an important part.
Mr. Chilton is "the bad guy", but is this just too obvious?
The fact that Connie goes to Granna's house upon Grace's request does not seem strange to me. Connie is angry at her mother much of the time, but she is seeking her approval in any way that she can. I think Grace wanted her to go to the house in order that she be able to "find herself". What does Grace know that she is not revealing?
And Sam, the sweaty, ponytailed, nose ringed, tattooed guy with stubby facial hair, sorry but I don't find him that attractive. I must be showing my age.
03-30-2009 01:40 PM
LOL--I've been suspicious of Professor Chilton ever since, in the first sentence in Chapter One, Ms. Howe, told us he had a "glittering" eye!
Anybody have any ideas about the meaning of the word on the cornerstone, "TETRAGRAMMATON?" I confess that I don't, and, of course, my dictionary was no help. "Tetra" means "four," so maybe it has something to do with the carvings on the stick figure's four extremities, but then again, maybe not!
Possible meanings of tetragrammaton
the Hebrew word for God, consisting of the four letters yod, he, vav, and he, transliterated consonantally usually as YHVH, now pronounced as Adonai or Elohim in substitution for the original pronunciation forbidden since the 2nd or 3rd century b.c.
four Hebrew letters usually transliterated as YHWH (Yahweh) or JHVH (Jehovah) signifying the Hebrew name for God which the Jews regarded as too holy to pronounce
The mystic number four, which was often symbolized to represent the Deity, whose name was expressed by four letters among some ancient nations; as, the Hebrew JeHoVaH, Greek qeo`s, Latin deus, etc.
03-30-2009 01:41 PM
First, I am loving the book. It arrived Friday night. I fould myself staying up way too late reading it and then sneaking in reading every chance I got this weekend.
As to the characters, I like Connie, although I wish a woman as bright as she is would have more confidence. I am guessing we will find out that Connie comes into her hown during the story.
The trial of Deliverance and Connie's orals were most significantly similar in that the panels each had preconcieved ideas on what the "correct" answrs to questions should be.
Connie and Liz seem to be odd men out at Harvard, although, that depiction in 1991 seems a bit out of step with the times.
Unquestionably, Arlo is goin got turn out to be Connie's familiar!
Her day dreams are cognitions and I beleive foreshadow her true nature.
03-30-2009 01:48 PM
I didn't even consider the possibility of the garden and the plumbing being out of whack. I assumed that since the book is about the salem witch trials and the author seems to be going down the path that witchcraft may have been practiced that there was something special about the house. Enchanted perhaps - for lack of another word.
03-30-2009 02:01 PM
03-30-2009 02:02 PM - edited 03-30-2009 02:06 PM
When I recieved the book I was amazed. The cover was nice and l liked the extra flap thing. When i began reading I was immediately interested in the story, reads like a mystery
Connie seems like a good girl, reserved unsure of herself. L iz is outspoken, truthful and gets right down to the nitty gritty. Connie's mom is free spirited, definately irresposible and she doesnt seem to have a care in the world. I like Sam, Connie better hook up with him! I am not sure what to think about these"nightmare and visions" that Connie is having. It is obviously relevant to what the "mystery" is all about.
I believe that there are going to be some twist and turns and revelations to come.
03-30-2009 02:09 PM
03-30-2009 02:12 PM
03-30-2009 02:13 PM
Okay, first of all I have to say that this book is a real treat so far and am very glad that I have this oppurtunity to read it. I have been so engrossed with the story.
To answer the moderators first questions:
I like Connie, she is simple and very smart. She has some of the same fears that we all experiance when it comes to advancing ourselves or even laying our passions on the table for others to examine. Her mother, Grace, is flamboyent. I feel Connie's frustration with the disconnect that they have but I beleive by the end of the book they will become closer, or at least I hope so. I don't think I like her advisor the more I read about him. He seems to have a selfish interrest in her work. I almost feel as though he would run off with her dissertation and call it his own. I'm just not sure about him. Sam is cool. I actually picture one of my ex-boyfriends as his face and attitude. This is not a negative since we are still friends but he just somes like a fun guy just going along for the ride.
I think Liz is a great addition to the book, if it weren't for her I would almost picture Connie as a recluse but when you bring Liz in she is more normal.
Hmmm, the dog. Well I don't think I gave much thought to him other then the fact that she would probably never have owned a dog if he had not forced hisself upon her life.
I look at the daydreams as some kind of witchy power that she is tapping into. She seems to do it alot and is usually right on with the description. I also think her mother may have tapped into this as well in her own way.
Sam shows proof that some people in that time did beleive in charms or curses of some kind by examining the markers. I also think that her professor has come to this conclusion to when he asks her the question about real magic during her examination.
Curiosity killed the cat but satisfaction brought it back