I’m back today with another book review for Rachel’s Random Resources. There’s been some new tours coming down the pipeline, so if you’re interested in reading any of those books or participating in any tours, make sure you check out Rachel’s website. Click on the banner here for the rest of this tour schedule and more information.
The Weelwright’s Daughter
by Eleanor Porter
Publisher: Boldwood Books
Release Date: April 21, 2020
Genre: Historical Fiction
Can she save herself from a witch’s fate?
Martha is a feisty and articulate young woman, the daughter of a wheelwright, living in a Herefordshire villlage in Elizabethan England. Unusually for the time she is educated and so helps at the local school whilst longing to escape the confines and small-mindedness of a community riven by religious bigotry and poverty.
As she is able to read and is well-versed in herbal remedies she is suspected of being a witch. When a landslip occurs – opening up a huge chasm in the centre of the village – she is blamed for it and pursued remorselessly by the villagers.
But can her own wits and the love of local stablehand Jacob save her from a witch’s persecution and death…
A brilliant and accomplished novel that perfectly captures the febrile atmosphere of Elizabethan village life in an age when suspicion and superstition were rife. Perfect for fans of Tracy Chevalier.
Eleanor Porter has lectured at Universities in England and Hong Kong and her poetry and short fiction has been published in magazines. The Wheelwright’s Daughter is her first novel.
Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources, Netgalley and Boldwood Books for this free copy. All quotes in this review are taken from the Advanced Reader Copy and may change in final publication.
One of the things that I had to remember about this time period is that women that were educated were always seen as being witches or just… incorrect in some way. Whether it was just being well-read, or even just learning medicinal properties more than what was expected of them to know, anything more than that and a woman was “causing trouble”. So I had to keep my anger in check when she started getting blamed for something that wasn’t even her fault. Because witches, or whatever.
Anyway, I think that Porter wrote this book well, and it really did make me feel like I was going back in time to a period where women like me would not have been accepted. It just made me want to appreciate that even though things aren’t perfect right now, I have the opportunity to not be literally executed for witchcraft, ya feel? So having that feeling of danger and anxiousness surrounding me as I read this because that’s what Martha was going through was an excellent touch.
I also think that even though this book did talk about religious bigotry as one of the main reasons for Martha’s troubles, Porter did a good job at not vilifying religion as a whole. There are some people that are strong in their faith and religion, and when books make all religion sound cruel and punishing, it can turn off a lot of potential readers. This wasn’t the case in this book, which I’m glad to see because it would have turned me off as well.