“This woman was one of the most impudent, scurrilous, wicked creatures of this world; and she did now throughout her whole trial discover herself to be such a one. Yet when she was asked what she had to say for herself, her chief plea was that she had led a most virtuous and holy life.” —Reverend Cotton Mather, 1692Condemn Me Not: Accused of Witchcraft by Heather B. Moore is an interesting historical fiction book in that it is based on the true story about the author's own flesh and blood.
USA Today Bestselling author Heather B. Moore brings the life of her 10th great-grandmother to center stage. Susannah North Martin, accused of witchcraft in 1692, joins five women in the Salem Jail, all sentenced to death for their crimes. Amidst tragedy, Susannah finds hope and compassion as she remembers a well-loved life, and readers discover that love reaches far beyond the grave as Susannah faces the magistrates in Salem.
Susannah North Martin was arrested for witchcraft and tried and hanged in 1692 during the witch hunting frenzy that was the Salem Witch Trials. Now, you know, and I know, that the accusations hurled at these women, men, and yes... even children, were complete and total crap. But reading this story sort of takes you out of time and places you in 1692. It gives you a kind of behind the scenes look at how these trials were conducted and what the accused had to endure and eventually what condemned them to death. Ridiculous accusations. All of it.
The absurdity of the examinations and trial are broken up, thankfully, just about every other chapter with Susannah in her younger years. We meet her as a 25 year old aspiring spinster as new neighbors come in to her life, immediately ruining her hopes of remaining alone forever. We also meet her (future) husband George, along with his ailing sister Eve, and, his daughter Hannah. Eve is friendly and kind and becomes fast friends with Susannah while Hannah is quiet and reserved, taking a considerable amount of time to warm up to Susannah. George... George is fantastic. And wonderful. And just.... just.
He's essentially the most eligible bachelor in Salisbury and everyone is fawning over him. Except Susannah. While I knew, based on the parts of the story that were told from the point of view of Susannah at age 71, that the two would eventually marry, reading about the two of them in younger years still made me want to ring her neck. Every time she avoided him or got angry at him. Every time she assumed his intentions or affections toward the other women in the town. The growth in their relationship was wonderfully written in my opinion and I absolutely loved watching them fall in love.
I've always been mildly curious about the Salem Witch Trials, knowing a little about the accusations toward the women who would eventually be sentenced to death. And knowing a little about their accusers. This story broke my heart though. Especially since I can't imagine how the author felt putting it together, know that Susannah was related to her and such horrible things were said and done to her. Yes, they are separated by more than 300 years, but to learn that a family member met such a fate at the hands of such evil people had to be a hard pill to swallow and subsequently turn in to the story it's become.
If you've any interest in the Salem Witch Trials or just that time frame in general, I'd suggest reading this story. While fictionalized, it is based heavily in truth and that makes it all the more compelling.