Salem story


One of my favourite plays is The Crucible by Arthur Miller. It turns on the story of John Proctor, hanged for being a witch in the town of Salem in Puritan New England in the 1700s.

I was extremely interested to pick up the Heretic's Daughter at the library because it tells the same story, but from the point of view of a different character. Martha Carrier was hanged on the same morning as John Proctor and the story is 'told' by her daughter, who was jailed in miserable conditions at the age of 12 for the same offence.

Martha proclaimed her innocence and was hanged because she would not confess to being a witch. Before she was arrested, she told her daughter to lie to save herself. The little girl 'confessed' to witchcraft and told the court that her mother led her into it. What a dilemma for a 12 year old, and what a thing to have to live with!

It's so well-written by first-time author Kathleen Kent that I was positively jealous. If my first novel comes out half as good I'll be very happy.
I do have a question I need to follow up on, however. My husband and many others I know are very keen on 'Puritan theology'. But if Puritanism led to the witch trials, what went wrong? Perhaps I'm putting two things together which are not linked, but it's a shame to use the same description for a very good thing and a very bad thing. Research needed.

booksFirewheel PressComment