The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

Author: Katherine Howe
Publisher: Hyperion
Number of pages: 362
What book is most important to you? What book would you search for without sleeping? Let me guess…for some, it might be a Bible, for others a rare, out of print, or first edition copy of some beloved text.  It could be a history book documenting some world event, a science book revealing some mysterious cause and effect, or a particularly lovely illustrated fiction book. But, for Connie, her search lies in the physick book written by Deliverance Dane.
In Salem, in the late 1600’s, women were often accused, tried and killed for being witches. But, what if they really were? What if they had the ability to heal, and were so misunderstood that they were murdered out of fear? And, what do legacies contribute to our present lives?
These are the questions Katherine Howe explores in her terrific novel The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. When graduate student Connie, at her mother’s request, goes to prepare her grandmother’s house to sell, she discovers a Bible. Inside the Bible is a key, and inside the key is a scrap of paper which reads Deliverance Dane. So begins the mysterious trail of discovering exactly who Deliverance was, what she was capable of, and how her life effects Connie’s. Not to mention those around Connie.
While I suspected many of the things that happened in the book before they were fully revealed, I was surprised at the ending which is always an unexpected pleasure. Other aspects of the book which thrilled me include: the fantastic recreation of the dialect not only of the East coast, but of those who lived in Colonial America; the relationship between Connie and her mother, Grace, an ex-hippie of sorts with a gentle, reassuring spirit; Connie’s love relationship with steeplejack, Sam.
It was a delightful book with a truly refreshing premise and conclusion.