WARNING: This book contains abusive and violent situations.
If you use reading as an escape, as I do, you must read this book! It was written by Chris Bohjalian and came out earlier in 2021. It is set during the time of the Salem witch trials, but within the confines of 1662 Puritan inhabited Boston, Mass.
The main character, Mary Deerfield, has only been married to Thomas Deerfield for approximately five years — but Mary has not produced a child. She is a devote Christian and a devoted wife, but for a MUCH older Thomas, that simply is not enough. He is abusive and unkind to her in private, stating often that she has “white meat” for brains. The reader can see her struggle with her role as a wife. Does she really love Thomas? Why hasn’t she conceived a child? Is there something wrong with her that she feels numb when Thomas forces himself sexually on her? She’s fulfilling her godly duty, right?
Mary is a beautiful and independent woman and you can see her really wrestle with her thoughts. She is a daughter of a wealthy merchant and her mother brings her these new household items called “forks,” as a gift, when one of her father’s ships returns to harbor. During this time period, in a very immature New England, the Puritans believe that they are truly the “devil’s tines.” Is Mary now in league with the devil? Her neighbors start to wonder and question her loyalty to godliness.
Thomas, who is also a functional alcoholic, becomes more abusive as the story unfolds and eventually stabs Mary through her palm with one of the devil’s tines, breaking bones and causing much injury to her delicate hand. This is the last draw and she has finally had enough, so she petitions the community Elders for a divorce. Does that truly seal the public opinion about Mary Deerfield being a witch? Thomas is a respected business owner and member of the church, after all.
Read and find out what becomes of Mary!
Honestly, I couldn’t put this book down. This period of time intrigues me — it was detrimental to be a woman, when you were no more than property and a baby-making factory. I found it ironic that it paralleled my own modern life, to a certain degree. My abusive Ex was a functional alcoholic during our marriage and made me question my own sanity on a regular basis. Anything I said against how he was treating me was “heresy” and me being “insane.” It only resonates that if a woman didn’t like the treatment her husband was giving to her, that he thought her to be a witch. It also resonated with me because I had an ancestor that was accused of being a witch and pressed to death by a large stone. The phrase “witch hunt” really has an emotional meaning to me and I one day hope to go to Salem, Mass to see the large stone that silenced his life. We must not forget this, as it is sort of appearing now, in present day society, with people getting offended and suing people over opinions. Oppression is still rampant, only in different forms! It is also ironic that my abusive Ex cited often that I was going against the Lord, when, in fact, I feel as though I was married to Satan!
Regardless, this book was one of the best books I have read in a long time and you will not regret it!