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Rachel-K
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Whole Novel

I'd like to invite everyone to share which of your predictions and suspicions were most accurate and/or most far off base?  (I was impressed by some insightful statements in earlier threads).

 

What is your conclusion about Chilton--why has he done what he's done? Is he evil? Poisoned, so that he isn't thinking straight? Is he just amoral?

 

Has Sam escaped the curse?

 

What is Connie's relationship to the Milk Street house now?

 

Can you share your favorite passages and characters with the group?

 

What do you see in Connie's future?

 

 

 

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aprilh
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Re: Whole Novel

I wanted to put this out there and see what everyone else thought. On page 331, while Mercy is visiting Deliverance in jail, Deliverance tells her, "it is written in the New Testament, in Matthew, that God came down and spoke to Peter, saying that upon this rock shall his church be built. It is you who are Peter, my daughter. You are the stone on which the church is built." When Professor Chilton turns up at the Milk Street house, wanting the shadow book, Connie tells him the book will not work for him. He screams, "It has to work! The philosopher's stone is the conduit! It is the medium for God's power here on earth! The rock on which God's church is built!" (pages 352-353) Could Mercy have possibly been the missing link in the philosopher's stone? Or maybe the house Deliverance had built on Milk Street?

 

April
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aprilh
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Re: Whole Novel


rkubie wrote:

I'd like to invite everyone to share which of your predictions and suspicions were most accurate and/or most far off base?  (I was impressed by some insightful statements in earlier threads).

 

The best prediction I had was not trusting Professor Chilton from the beginning. He was very manipulative of Connie when she told him of the "receipt" book.

 

What is your conclusion about Chilton--why has he done what he's done? Is he evil? Poisoned, so that he isn't thinking straight? Is he just amoral? 

 

Chilton turned out to be the bad guy in the story. He was so obsessed with finding the philosopher's stone, he didn't care who he hurt in the process. I think Chilton is truly evil. He poisioned Sam, not caring what would happen to him if Connie didn't find the cure fast. He was the one who called the ambulance when Sam fell, but only because if Sam died, then Connie would not have a reason to immediately find the shadow book.

 

Has Sam escaped the curse?

 

For now at least, Sam is safe. I hope the curse is broken, but I'm not sure if a curse lasting through all those generations can be broken or not. Prudence sold the shadow book to rid her family of the curse, but that did not work out the way she  had hoped either.

 

What is Connie's relationship to the Milk Street house now?

 

I'm glad Grace decided to not to sell the Milk Street house after all. It needs to stay in their family. After finishing the novel, I don't think Grace really had any intentions to ever sell the house, she just wanted Connie to discover the secrets in their family.

 

What do you see in Connie's future?

 

I'm not sure what Connie's future holds, but I'm hoping we'll have a continuation of this story from Katherine Howe soon!


 

April
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dhaupt
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Re: Whole Novel

Great questions Rachel,

My thoughts by the end of the book about Chilton made me think that he was an evil alchemist who dabbled once too many times in the dark magic. I think he started out with good intentions but by the end he was too far gone into insanity to know any better.

 

When the book ends Chilton is experiencing the same symptoms that Sam had incurred, so I'm thinking that yes Sam did indeed stop the curse. And speaking about the curse I'm wondering if all through the history of the Almanak/Spell Book/Recipe Book there wasn't something sinister creating all the "accidents" to the men.

 

I think that Grace has moved to the house on Milk Street and Connie and Sam visit there often.

 

I like all of the characters in the book evil and good. Of the main characters I like Connie, Sam and Grace the best. I like Connie because she's constantly re learning what it is to be Connie and not afraid to grow in her knowledge, I like Sam because he's this goofy slightly grungy boy with the biggest heart and the most open mind in the book, then there's Grace who in her own way is Connie's guardian angel always looking out for her and letting her find her own path toward her powers. Oh and let's not forget Arlo in the best supporting dog/familiar role who's this scruffy mutt of a thing who always manages to be where he's needed.

 

In Connie's future I see a professorship but not at Havard, maybe Radcliffe so she can be close to the book and keep it safe. I see her and Sam getting married and having of course a daughter, but they also break the chain and have a little boy too. 

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DSaff
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Re: Whole Novel

[ Edited ]

I have been a little bit right and wrong in my thoughts during the discussion. <grin> The biggest idea that doesn't seem to be right would be Connie being pregnant. Obviously it would have been mentioned in the last section of the book because there is definitely time involved. Grace sold her home in AZ and moved back to Granna's house, and she and Connie spent time gardening. So, since they haven't talked about it, I guess she isn't pregnant.

 

Chilton - I haven't liked him for most of the book and can say that didn't change at all. I didn't even pity him at the end. While I wouldn't wish the curse on anyone, Chilton decided to take matters into his own hands and mess with the life of Sam. He was despicable and deserved his fate. His web of deceit led him to his end. I was very happy to read that Janine got his job.

 

Sam - I was sooooo happy to find him cured. I don't think he has escaped the curse because Chilton engineered the seizures, so it wasn't the "real" thing. But, now that he and Connie have the knowledge......  Actually, I think this would make a great start for a new book.  LOL

 

Milk Street House - I love this house. We learn that it actually is loved by Grace and Connie, as Grace moves back home and Connie spends time in the garden. Connie seems very attached to the house and its history and I see her doing more research on both. She definitely sees more in her mother and seems to want to learn more about the plants. Grace seems more at peace since moving back to the house.

 

Connie's future - I think Connie will finish her schooling and become a full-time professor. She and Sam seem so close and I see marriage in the future. But, magic and the Milk Street House are totally in her future as well. Connie will be happier now because her relationship with her mother is closer and she knows more about her ancestory.

 

 

Message Edited by DSaff on 04-20-2009 10:47 AM
DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
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DSaff
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Re: Favorite Character

This is a tough one for me. The book had an awesome ensemble cast, none of whom could be removed without changing the book. So, I have a couple of favorites.

 

Deliverance - This woman was strong, loving, and self-sacrificing. She gave of herself freely, and that ultimately lead to her death. We saw the depth of her love for Mercy in the last Interlude, one of the most powerful things I have ever read.

 

Connie - I loved the way Connie's character changed through the book. She seemed quiet and shy in the beginning, working diligently to finish her education. Men didn't seem to gravitate to her as she was so wrapped up in studies. But, in the end she is a woman who can really stand up for herself. She is someone who has literally faced a demon and lived to tell about it.  She also learns about love from her mother and Sam.

 

Of course, there is always Arlo, the unassuming, ever-faithful friend. 

 

DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
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booksJT
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Re: Whole Novel

   My predictions were that Chilton would eventually  lose his mind and job because of his obsession with finding the philosopher's stone. Also my suspicions were that he had no intention of sharing the stage with Connie once he found the  stone and book.   

   I think Chilton did what he did because he believed that the stone existed in the first place. His mind was poisoned because of his obsession of getting the stone and book. Because of his obsession he is not thinking clear if not for the stone and shadow book hew would be a much better professor.

   Has Sam escaped the curse?

For now he has. But I think if it goes from one generation to another he still might have to worry as long as he is with Connie.

   Connie's relationship with the house has changed for the better. She now realizes it was her mother's intention to keep the house in the family.  Also the  house is where she discovered that she has come a generation of witches. 

   In  this passage Connie realizes why her and  Grace don't get along."Of course mothers and daughters with strong personalities might see the world from different points of view".pg 161. On page 292 is when Connie finds out how the burnt marks got on her door,"Grace said."No one  and  I mean no one--wants to keep you safe more than I do". I think this says how Grace feels about her daughter. She is going to protect  her regardless of their relationship as mother and daughter. I like Connie and Grace because even though they weren't close they looked after one another.

   In the future I see Connie becoming successful at what she sets out to do.

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Shadowwolf36
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Re: Whole Novel

As far as Chilton goes, I think when one gets as obsessed with a viewpoint that needs to be proved to further his career as he was, I can see him going through ANY lengths right or wrong to gain his recognition.  I think I could see it coming through conversations that Connie had with him and other professors....

 

I think that Sam may not be free from the curse but he will certainly be much better protected than previous husbands have been.  Nearly all of the women before Connie and perhaps Grace, did not embrace their natural abilities.  They tried to tone them down, not use them at all or use it in a different way that would not label them as witches.  I think that with Connie accepting who and what she is will help keep Sam safe....Fear helped the previous men in the witches lives killed. 

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CathyB
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Re: Whole Novel

 

For me, my latest Arlo theory was incorrect - he was not one of the male descendants. I am still not sure about him. The tombstone had a faded 'D'. Did that stand for Deliverance or Dog? And, if it was Dog (who also faded in and out), when did he exist in the 'real' sense? And, if it was Deliverance, who was the dog that followed Deliverance and Mercy around?

 

Chilton - My suspicions of him were correct. I think he was deranged. He became obsessed with the philosopher's stone and could not see beyond that. He used people and even inflicted a death sentence upon Sam just to get what he wanted. He is evil.

 

Sam - Whether or not Sam has escaped the curse is still open for debate. I do not believe that the poisoning had anything to do with the curse. If I recall correctly, all the women had a child or were pregnant before their significant other 'met the curse'. Until the pregnancy occurs, he is safe. After that, .... Hopefully, Connie and Grace can find a way to end the curse.

 

Milk Street - I believe that Connie always felt a connection to the house. That is why she stayed in it given the condition it was in. She will always feel safe there. I feel that she loves the house and is excited by allthe renovations that Sam is doing on it. She spends time there with Grace (having moved back in) and putters around in the garden.

 

Least Favorite characters - It is easier for me to indicate my least favorite characters as I feel the others were ALL favorites.

 

Chilton - although necessary for the book, I did not like him. Enough said :smileyhappy:.

 

Janine - to me, she was an incidental character and did not add much to the story.

 

Grad Student - I am at work, without my book, and cannot remember his name. Once again, an incidental character - whose name I cannot even remember.

Connie - I think that Connie's future looks bright. She will continue in academia; however, with more of an open mind. The experience and her personal history have changed her. She will also learn more of the 'craft.

 

CathyB

 

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DSaff
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Favorite Passages

There are quite a few passages I have loved in this book. There is a lot I highlighted. Here are some of my favorites.

 

pg. 13 "She opened each mental drawer in turn, pulling out index cards by the handful, shuffling through them, and then tossing them aside." partially repeated on pg. 263

 

pg. 28 "Connie, you need to try to center yourself." Grace to the crying toddler

 

pg. 159 "She almost felt that she owed it to Prudence to misbehave." Connie in the Library

 

pg. 231 "She sometimes forgot that to be a good historian one must also have an ear for gossip."

 

Mother-Daughter relationships

pg. 106 "Shhhhhhh, shhhhh," the girl's father soothed, and Mercy looked up at her parents and reflected that she had never seen her mother cry."

 

pg. 292 "I'll tell you this much," Grace said. "No one - and I mean no one - wants to keep you safe more than I do."

 

the entire scene from the bottom of pg. 337 through 338 - Deliverance and Mercy

 

Arlo - friend, companion, protector

pg. 23 - 25 where they find each other

pg. 170 "Sometimes she would look down to discover Arlo in her lap, his brown gaze reminding her that she had not spoken in several hours."

pg. 354 "I'm sorry," she whispered, one tear trickling down her cheek as Arlo materialized by her side.

 

DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
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crimekitty763
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Re: Whole Novel

I agree with the other readers.  This was a wonderful book.  But I was slightly disappointed with the ending until I thought, "AHA  a sequel is planned so we can find out what happens to the Shadow Book, Connie, Arlo, Sam and even Prof Chilton."   Now I am waiting for the sequel.  This fantastic book opened my mind to reading other stories of the Salem Witch Hunts and to the possibility of visiting Salem, MA  this fall.  I found another excellent book in this genre - SUSANNAH MORROW by Megan Chase.  :smileytongue:
Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. It is about learning to dance in the rain.
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ponie
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Re: Whole Novel


crimekitty763 wrote:
I agree with the other readers.  This was a wonderful book.  But I was slightly disappointed with the ending until I thought, "AHA  a sequel is planned so we can find out what happens to the Shadow Book, Connie, Arlo, Sam and even Prof Chilton."   Now I am waiting for the sequel.  This fantastic book opened my mind to reading other stories of the Salem Witch Hunts and to the possibility of visiting Salem, MA  this fall.  I found another excellent book in this genre - SUSANNAH MORROW by Megan Chase.  :smileytongue:

 

crimekitty763 I also have on my to-be-read-this-week-while-on-vacation Susannah Morrow as well as The Heretic's Daughter.  And I want to go back and read The Witch of Blackbird Pond.  I read it with my girls when they were younger but don't remember getting as stirred up and impacted by it as I was TPBODD as well as The Crucible. 
ponie
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thewanderingjew
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Re: Whole Novel


rkubie wrote:

I'd like to invite everyone to share which of your predictions and suspicions were most accurate and/or most far off base?  (I was impressed by some insightful statements in earlier threads).

 

I was totally off base about Connie since I did not think of her as kind of a sorceress but rather as a natural, gifted healer. I assumed the book was more reality rather than fantasy based. Boy was I wrong!

 

What is your conclusion about Chilton--why has he done what he's done? Is he evil? Poisoned, so that he isn't thinking straight? Is he just amoral?

 

I didn't think of Chilton as evil, at first. Later on, when it becomes obvious that he caused Sam's illness, I thought perhaps he was a "warlock" since we were reading about witches, but I rejected that because I didn't think it was really going to turn out to be a book about "witchcraft" but rather about superstition. Then I thought he was driven insane by his lack of success in his research. I never thought about the chemicals he was working with in the lab. His appearances and behavior defied reality at times, so that threw me off. I mean, how did he get to Granna's house so quickly? How was he able to poison Sam's drink? How did he appear in the library when the lights were out? He seemed to know too much and he seemed to come and go like a shadow yet he didn't seem magical to me, just mean, so I wasn't totally drawn into that part of the story.

 

Has Sam escaped the curse?

 

I don't think we can tell that until time passes. None of the other males escaped.

 

What is Connie's relationship to the Milk Street house now?

 

Since Grace is living there, I assume she will just be a visitor to the house now. I think that Connie and her mom will probably grow closer since she will better understand her mom and where she is coming from. Perhaps they will learn from each other.

What do you see in Connie's future?

 

I think Connie and Sam will marry. Connie will have a child who will also be a "witch" etc. Maybe there will be a sequel following the generations in the model of the Anne Rice tradition.

 

If I now presume that, according to the book, there really are witches, and the book does depart from the historical facts of the trials, then I have to ask why, if Deliverance and Mercy possessed such "real" magical powers, were they not able to stop the witch trials with some kind  of a "real" magic spell and at least save Deliverance?

It also seemed odd to me, that the multiple generations never seemed to join forces and work together to effect cures or change or spells. It was almost as if only one could use the power at a time. Otherwise, why didn't Grace help Connie? She could see it coming so why couldn't she warn her more effectively? Why couldn't she help her conjure up the cure for Sam and help her ward off Chilton's attack? I have so many questions...sorry.

twj       


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PiperMurphy
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Re: Whole Novel


rkubie wrote:

 

What is your conclusion about Chilton--why has he done what he's done? Is he evil? Poisoned, so that he isn't thinking straight? Is he just amoral?

 

Chilton remains a fascinating charater to me, along with being one of my favorites (along with Arlo). I think that Chilton was trying to complete his life's work and his obsession caused him to behave in uncharacteristic ways. I also think that he was poisoned by his experiments. I don't think that he was evil, maybe a little amoral, but mostly he was misguided and short-sighted. He wasn't looking at all aspects of alchemy.

 

 

Has Sam escaped the curse?

 

I believe that Sam has escaped the curse, it there really was a curse. Connie used the book to save Sam, and she wouldn't have succeed without it. However, Connie was thinking, "I have to save Sam", not "I have to break the curse". It wasn't uncommon for women in the past to be widows. Perhaps Deliverance and her descendants were experiencing life rather than being cursed.

 

 

What is Connie's relationship to the Milk Street house now?

 

Unlike me, Connie always seemed to accept the house for what it was. Now that her Mother is living there, I think she might come to appreciate it more.

 

 

Can you share your favorite passages and characters with the group?

 

My favorite passage is the final interlude. It is a heartbreakingly beautiful, eloquently crafted piece of writing.

 

 

What do you see in Connie's future?

 

I think that Connie will obtain her doctorate and pursue a career as a historian. I hope that Sam will be part of her future. I think that she will try to remain grounded in academia, but whatever magical powers she has will pop up whether she wants them to or not. I can't wait for the sequel to find out if I'm right.

 

 

 


 

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ponie
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Re: final thought on Chilton

p.357

What a shame what happened to Manning...he fell ill...nobody really knew what it was at first...but when they opened his office...Heavy metals...toxic stuff...he must have poisoned himself...some extensive neurological damage from the exposure...causes him to have grand mal seizures...

 

NOT! great explanations (metals/toxics, great putting the "blame"/fault where it truly belongs (he was doing bad stuff) but Connie (and I believe Sam and certainly Grace) and us know different; it was the spell.

 

Does Chilton "know"?  What story does he tell?  What explanation does he give?  What answers does he have for the MDs as he recovers?

ponie
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JerseyAngel
Posts: 168
Registered: ‎03-18-2009

Re: Whole Novel

I had said before that I didn't think the author would end the book making us wonder about Sam. That either he would die now or she would find a way to break the curse. Unfortunately, I was wrong. I loved this book and that was the one thing that left me disappointed. I know Katherine says she plans another book but I thought she said it was going to be actually a prequel (Deliverance's life before she was tried as a witch). So until, and if, she writes another book about Connie, we will be left to wonder if the curse will eventually claim Sam's life.

 

As for Chilton, I think he just went off the deep end. His obsession over his work became more then just getting credit but about his own desire to find this big discovery in life. It eventually destroyed him. Even if Chilton tried to tell the doctors what happened that day with Connie, they would probably think the poisons had effected his mind & caused him to go a little crazy.

 

I think Connie has found a new found appreciation for her mother & part of that connection is Milk House. I was so happy to find that Grace kept it after finding out how it came to be in the family. Such a big piece of their own personal history!

 

I think Connie's future will no doubt still be academic based but now, with her better understanding of her mother, she will embrace her new powers & learn more about them. I think her mind will forever be open to new things & she won't be so easy to close off to things she doesn't understand.

 

I have to say the actual hanging of the women was heartwrenching. The way Katherine described the scene, you felt as though you were there, standing next to Mercy. You could feel the emotion & picture them all as they stood, waiting to be hung, having rotten vegetables thrown at them. I think it was one of the most impactful pieces in the book that will stay with me for some time.

 

Stephanie

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pen21
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Re: Whole Novel


rkubie wrote:

I'd like to invite everyone to share which of your predictions and suspicions were most accurate and/or most far off base?  (I was impressed by some insightful statements in earlier threads).

 


One suspicion or prediction about Chilton I had was that he had researched and learned more about Connie and her familyl. I thought for a short time that maybe he planted things at her Granna's house. I was glad when it did not happen that way.

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miller1323
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Re: Whole Novel

[ Edited ]

That's a great idea about the curse possibly transfering to Chilton.  Maybe that's motivation for Chilton to seek out Connie in the furture.

 

"When the book ends Chilton is experiencing the same symptoms that Sam had incurred, so I'm thinking that yes Sam did indeed stop the curse."

Message Edited by miller1323 on 04-20-2009 09:01 PM
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miller1323
Posts: 16
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Re: Whole Novel

Ah, Chilton...he turned out to be kind of an a-hole, no?  To pat myself pn the back, I completely fosaw that Connie's spell to cure Sam would conjure the presense of Chilton.  I loved his scary desperation at the end.  And the rationale--posing himself with this own chemical experiments.  Seems like he may have a touch of spirtual posining as well.  You can't trust that black magic.

 

I also wanted to say Connie locating this invaluable book becuase it was misfiled as a cookbook due to sexism of the time.  That was great.  What a cool surprise on Katherine Howe's part.  The men for their part, really don't come off as capable in this book, and I'm OK with that.

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emmagrace
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Re: Whole Novel

My prediction about Connie and Grace gifted and being a part of Deliverances family turned out to be correct!

 

Chilton was a man who once was brilliant in his studies/career. Greed and power turned him into a person who was amoral! I feel that justice was served. He certainly reaped what he sowed.

 

Hopefully Sam has escaped the curse. I wonder if Connie continues to practice magic - will Sam succumb to the same fate as the other ladies husbands?

 

I think that Connie feels a strong bond with the Milk Street house. I think that the house holds a special place in her heart, especially with all of the history/family members that the house has sheltered..

 

It seems that Connie's future is very bright. Her relationship with Sam continues to blossom and her career is on the right track.

 

Sam and Connie are my favorite characters of course!!