Wednesday, February 1, 2012
The Witch of Blackbird Pond (1959)
16-year-old Katherine Tyler, Kit, had to leave Barbados in a hurry. Her grandfather, who had raised her, died and once his debts were settled Kit was left penniless. And she didn't want to marry the rich old man who could give her wealth and comfort, but for whom she had no love. She booked passage on a ship bound for New England where her only living relative, her mother's sister, lived. On the ship she makes friends with Nat Eaton, ship owner's son.
She surprised them with more than just herself. She also brought several (7, I think) boxes and trunks filled with finery that none of them had ever thought to see, and which her Uncle Matthew demanded be stored in the attic as all such nonsense leads to idleness and the work of the devil.
Kit has two cousins: Judith who is headstrong and fancies herself in love with John Holbrook, and Mercy who is calm and patient and really loves John, but would never presume to take anything Judith wanted.
Kit finds life in New England a hard grind. Little laughter, hard work, long winters. Her bright spot in life is the friendship she makes with the "witch" who lives at Blackbird Pond. She, of course, is not a witch, but with her Quaker ways the Puritans who make up the town label her as such. Kit has to keep her friendship with Hannah secret. Nat is also friends with Hannah and they have several interactions at her house (a little budding romance). When the town works itself up over several children who have fallen ill Kit runs in the night to rescue her friend, and eventually Kit herself is accused of witchcraft!
I remember reading The Witch of Blackbird Pond when I was young and liking it. On this reading it perhaps seemed a bit melodramatic, but I enjoyed the historical setting and the description of life at the time. I think girls would like it better than boys. And everything resolves into a happy ending for all. :)
Speare, Elizabeth George. The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Houghton Mifflin, 1958.