Saturday, 11 April 2015

52 Books in 52 Weeks - Week 14

Hmm week 14, lucky for some and I seem to have missed out week 13. I had two mini breaks over the last two weekends, the first with friends and the second with family in New York, so reading was done but no time for blogging. To balance this out, I have read three books over the last fortnight.

The first book I read was The House Where It Happened by Martina Devlin. This was a faction book, fiction based on fact. On the north Antrim coast in N Ireland there was a witch hunt in the 1600s. Not as famous or infamous as the Salem witch trials, or even the Pendleton witches, but a witch hunt all the same. I have a vested interest in this novel, my husband's antecedents are from Islandmagee where the story is set and I have previously read a factual account of the witches. Maybe I was hoping to find some mention of the husband's relatives. Funnily enough the only mention of one of his family surnames was of a farmer who indulged in a little rumpy pumpy with his farm/house servant!!! My friend in work, and co genealogist had a couple of surname mentions but none so scandalous as mine. A little closer to home, my daughter has a friend who is directly descended from one of the "witches" but strangely enough they keep this fact rather low key. Andrene, you must read this book, you know who you are! But, back to the book, I enjoyed it very much but how well it would travel I am not sure. The novel is written in the first person through the eyes of Ellen, the house servant in Knowehead House. The mistress's niece comes to visit, it is hinted she may suffer from delusions, her parents feel she needs a holiday. Said niece quickly becomes obsessed with stories of local witches' covens and dark deeds and true to form she quickly sees visions. At her say so 8 local, and undoubtedly innocent women are thrown into jail. It must have been terrifying to be afraid of witches and also being accused of witchcraft at that time. The novel is written in the vernacular of the time, the locals were mostly Ulster Scots so lots of Ulsterisms in the dialect. It was fun to see the words my grandparents would have used in print form, but I feel this would have been an irritant to the not so local reader. I previously read a novel about the Pendleton witches in Lancashire, England and felt much the same way about that book too, my maternal grandfather was born in Pendleton. There are stories in both our families of what would be known as "wise woman". My great grandmother used "charms" to rid folks of illness (whether successfully or not I am not sure!) and my husband's grandmother used to be sent for to both help with the birth and then the death of neighbours. We have all sorts of things in common!

My second book was back to my favourite genre, crime. This was a book crossing book for me from my father and  a new author for me. Graham Hurley's "One Under" is part of a series of books involving detective inspector Joe Farraday. Though to be honest as it is mainly about a policeman called Winter, it took me a while to pick up on DI Farraday! The crime was set in Portsmouth, an area I hope to visit very soon, so this was great. There were two stories running alongside which I enjoyed and the endings to both were rather unexpected. A good read all round and I intend to read more of these. I only wish I had read an earlier one first, to give me a bit more background information to the story line.

My last read was The Beach Hut by Veronica Henry and I read it on my kindle. I have read other Veronica Henry's before but felt this was rather weak compared to the others. I read it inflight though, so it was perfect for that, didn't tax the brain too much.

This week I am hoping to read Nora Webster by Colm Toibin, though I so often end up reading something else!

Helen x
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  1. I don't read much, but your first book ....the house where it happened looks very interesting!

  2. Three very different books, really want to read the Martina Devlin one, I love local history too x


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