The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

First off, thanks everyone for a successful first week at our new home! I appreciate everyone who has moved over with me and tuned in, sent kudos, shared posts. We’re off to a great start!


While I’ve all but given up on that historical fiction Coursera class (the lectures were a bit disorganized for me), I’m still reading the books from the syllabus…because why not? Today’s selection was The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, which I was actually looking forward to reading prior to seeing the list. I’d heard fellow bloggers mention it, and anything with that cool of a title of course makes my TBR.

After passing a big oral examination, Connie now has to start her doctoral dissertation on colonial history. She has no idea what to research, and her boss is being strangely cruel about her funding. Not only that, but her mother all of the sudden needs her to get her Granna’s ancient house ready for sale–a house that has no electricity, and is basically falling apart. While cleaning, she finds a few colonial artifacts that lead her into a mysterious puzzle that her academic mind can’t help but unwind, giving her not only the material she needs for her dissertation, but also some curious connections to women from long ago.

R and I watch the show Sleepy Hollow religiously during the fall season, and this book reminded me of Ichabod and Abby, and of course, Ichabod’s wife Katrina. Howe’s book was full of symbolism that needed to be translated, references to real people that lived during the Salem “panic,” recipes for medicine and magic. I especially loved the flash backs to 1692 and the connections that were made between that year and 1991.

There were a few holes left–things that were brought up or pointed to, as if a thread were going to be woven into the story and then it was left dangling. For example, at one point Grace mentions the ice age of 1692 and how different the climate was now, and Connie “files it away,” but I never found any other reference to that, and so I don’t know why that was important. There were a few others, and things like that drive me crazy, because I am always looking for special details to put together.

That’s really my only criticism, though. I loved the relationship with Sam, but Grace, I think, was my favorite character. She knew exactly what she was doing–pushing and pulling Connie where she thought she needed to be. And Arlo is such a mysterious, funny little dog.

Katherine Howe’s story of the Salem Panic makes me want to go raid some ancient library stacks. Who knows what I’ll find if I were to go looking?


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