As I've mentioned in the past, I love to pick books up on holidays about the local area. Usually, they're fiction books but can occasionally be books about the area. This book sort of falls into two camps, one it's a fiction book, yet its story is rooted in fact. I saw in in the window of Southwold Bookshop (a great shop, by the way) and had to have it. No books left in store, so the window was raided. This isn't my usual read; historical novels can leave me cold. This one however was a bewitching read.
Set in Suffolk during the seventeenth century, it follows the story of Anne Camell, a woman of the parish of Southwold who is accused of being a witch. Told in a first-person perspective, it follows her life as she slowly goes from being a respected member of the town, to being a pariah.
The writing is first class, words flow, and the pages turn as you plunge yourself into the seventeenth century. At times you can smell the odours that must have existed at the time. I really did enjoy the style of writing. As a say historical novels aren't my usual fix, yet this one held my attention right to the end, a testament to the writer.
I loved that this is based on one of the women accused of witchcraft in puritan England. It was an unsettling time, with women all over the country being accused of being witches. Often it was that they were herbalists, helping those in need and pain. It could even be that they got on the wrong side of the authorities and then charges were brought about them.
As a book based on events nearly four hundred years ago, it rings true about society today. It made me thing of those refugees trying to come to this country. We fear those that we don't understand, those who only wish to help. We turn them into pariahs and fear them. Yet they have a valuable role to play in our communities, yet those in power demonise them and turn public opinion against them.
The ending of the book is surreal, brilliantly told. A fitting end to a thoroughly entertaining book. LM West has since written another book, which I hope to read soon. A five-star read.