Cross Plains Public Library (TX)

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"Six Women of Salem: The Untold Story of the Accused and Their Accusers in the Salem Witch Trials" by Marilynne K. Roach

Six Women of Salem: The Untold Story of the Accused and Their Accusers in the Salem Witch Trials

Our book club chooses books that will educate us, enlighten us, or enrich us. For me, “Six Women of Salem” did all those things.  Being based on historical facts, court documents and comprehensive research, it was not an easy book to read, but the author did an excellent job of presenting the cases of three of the accused and three of their accusers. I was amazed that there were still enough records left after the centuries to give such a detailed account of 1692 and an analysis of the people involved and their malicious personalities. This era in our history was filled with superstitions, innuendos, viciousness, and psychological warfare.

Ms. Roach begins by introducing Rebecca Nurse, Bridget Bishop, Mary English, Ann Putnam Sr., Tituba, and Mary Warren.  Her painstakingly detailed account of these women brings them to life. Then the author gives a chronological description of the hearings and trials, using court testimony as facts and filling in gaps with logical supposition.  The introduction of other minor characters can be confusing at times, and I found myself jotting down names and notes for my own clarification. As the accounts from the accusers become more and more similar, it became obvious that the accusers were “feeding” off each other in a frenzy.  The ineptitude of the judges hearing their cases was astounding. The steadfastness of the women imprisoned was admirable and the lengths their relatives went to, to prove their innocence was heartbreaking.

In the end, authorities finally put a stop to the proceedings. What I found interesting was that very few of these “witches” were executed and most were hung.  I have always envisioned hundreds of women been burned at the stake.  Although I was the only member of our club who liked the book, the others did find it educational and enlightening.

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