Six Women of Salem by Marilynne K. Roach

Six Women of Salem: The Untold Story of the Accused and Their Accusers in the Salem Witch TrialsSix Women of Salem: The Untold Story of the Accused and Their Accusers in the Salem Witch Trials by Marilynne K. Roach

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.–Description from Goodreads

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an interesting book and would be particularly interesting for someone who is not familiar already with the way the witch trials came to be and the history of the cases.

The only complaint I have with this book, is that during the first few chapters, there is a lot of set up and dates, family lineage and explanation to wade through before actually getting to the more interesting and easily flowing part of the book. Whilst this may not bother the more studious types, I do think that as a rule of the average person looking for something interesting to read, this might come across as a bit mundane.

Once this book got moving, I enjoyed the way the author used the collected information to tell the story of these individual women and what they suffered through. This writing had a much more personal feel than many accounts of the same events. This was a book that I found both taught me some new things and refreshed my memory on other things.

Overall, this was worth the time to read. The author was proficient in fact checking and arranging this in a way that made it fun to read and encouraged me to keep turning pages. I would feel comfortable recommending this to teachers and others who are interested in the subject matter.

This review is based on a digital ARC from the publisher in cooperation with Netgalley.

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4 thoughts on “Six Women of Salem by Marilynne K. Roach

  1. A very nice review. Yes, I probably wouldn’t be bothered by the stats. This type of book just goes to show us that we are all susceptible to the group mania that passes through humanity at various times as seen in the McCarthy era in the US with accusations, the communist hunts in China, Cambodia and elsewhere including Stalinist Russia and the Nazi approach to ratting out even your own family. Scary!

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