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

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

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by Marilynne K. Roach
     
 

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Six Women of Salem is the first work to use the lives of a select number of representative women as a microcosm to illuminate the larger crisis of the Salem witch trials. By the end of the trials, beyond the twenty who were executed and the five who perished in prison, 207 individuals had been accused, 74 had been “afflicted,” 32 had officiallySee more details below

Overview


Six Women of Salem is the first work to use the lives of a select number of representative women as a microcosm to illuminate the larger crisis of the Salem witch trials. By the end of the trials, beyond the twenty who were executed and the five who perished in prison, 207 individuals had been accused, 74 had been “afflicted,” 32 had officially accused their fellow neighbors, and 255 ordinary people had been inexorably drawn into that ruinous and murderous vortex, and this doesn’t include the religious, judicial, and governmental leaders. All this adds up to what the Rev. Cotton Mather called “a desolation of names.”

The individuals involved are too often reduced to stock characters and stereotypes when accuracy is sacrificed to indignation. And although the flood of names and detail in the history of an extraordinary event like the Salem witch trials can swamp the individual lives involved, individuals still deserve to be remembered and, in remembering specific lives, modern readers can benefit from such historical intimacy. By examining the lives of six specific women, Marilynne Roach shows readers what it was like to be present throughout this horrific time and how it was impossible to live through it unchanged.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
10/21/2013
Roach (The Salem Witch Trials) makes history more accessible in her latest book on the infamous mass hysteria that took place in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692–1693, resulting in the executions of 20 supposed "witches," and the accusations of about 200. Roach successfully constructs first-person narratives from the perspectives of six real Salem women—both accusers and accused. This style of narrative provides an intimacy with the Salem people without feeling too fictionalized or overdone. Roach draws on a number of primary and secondary documents to illuminate every detail of the Salem witch trials, while duly paying respect to the victims of these horrific trials. She lays out the facts, but avoids speculation or further analysis. This book is easily digestible even for those who stray away nonfiction, yet readers still reap the benefits of Roach's thorough researched and expertise on the subject. (Sept.)
Kirkus Reviews
2013-09-15
Roach (The Salem Witch Trials: A Day by Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege, 2004) explores the lives of six women involved in the Salem witch trials. The author's deep knowledge of virtually every man, woman and child affected by the trials in this bizarre period tends to get in her way during the narrative. More than 200 people were accused of witchcraft in the mass hysteria, precipitated by a few pre-pubescent girls who suddenly developed seizures and blamed local women. Curiously, many of the afflicted had feuded with the accusers' families. Tituba, a Caribbean slave, was accused and fearfully told them what they wanted to hear: that she'd signed Satan's book. Then she named names, since they expected it, feeding the fury. Anyone with a grudge could suddenly remember an evil eye or a sudden death and cast blame. Roach gives too much background on superfluous accusations that really didn't affect the six primary subjects. The specially called Court of Oyer and Terminer asked each of the accused the same questions over and over, ignoring pleas and even proofs of innocence. Hearings were distracted as victims collapsed upon seeing the accused. One girl was found to have brought pins to stab herself and blame the accused; no doubt this was not an isolated incident. Twenty-eight were condemned. In 1711, 22 of those were pardoned, way too late for those who had already been executed. Had Roach been stricter in adhering to the stories of the six women, without naming all the other accused, the book would have provided better insight into a strange period. As it is, there is just too much information, too many asides, too much confusion and too many victims.
From the Publisher
"[Full of] the author's deep knowledge of virtually every man, woman and child affected by the trials in this bizarre period." —Kirkus
Library Journal
12/01/2013
From early 1692 until mid-1693, accusations of witchcraft, based on fear, prejudice, resentment, and unexplainable illnesses, affected hundreds of lives in and around Salem, MA. After 20 executions, changing public sentiment caused officials to desist, and the frenzy abated significantly. Independent historian and illustrator Roach has produced a book similar to her The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege but that focuses intently on the lives of six women of varied backgrounds—four accused, one accuser, and one mother of an accuser: Bridget Bishop, Mary English, Rebecca Nurse, Tituba, Mary Warren, and Ann Putnam—each trapped in her role by fear and pressure. With minimal analysis or criticism, Roach animates information woven together from court records, trial notes, diaries, vital records, sermon notes, and family lore in a successful attempt to personalize their lives, drawing the reader away from commonly believed stereotypes and sensational folklore. Brief imagined passages by Roach on what individuals might have thought and experienced introduce each chapter. VERDICT The book often has a tedious level of detail and can confuse, yet these qualities mirror the tangled and turbulent period itself and effectively immerse readers in its terrifying reality. For consideration by both popular and professional Salem witch trial enthusiasts.—Margaret Kappanadze, Elmira Coll. Lib., NY

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780306821202
Publisher:
Da Capo Press
Publication date:
09/03/2013
Pages:
472
Sales rank:
136,920
Product dimensions:
6.36(w) x 9.04(h) x 1.25(d)

Meet the Author

Stage actress Kate Reading has been a freelance narrator for over twenty years. She has received multiple Audie Awards and nominations, as well as numerous Earphones Awards from AudioFile magazine, which has named her Narrator of the Year and, for two years running, Best Voice in Science Fiction and Fantasy.

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