I’m in two book groups. One with women in my church (it tends to be much more conservative and people get antsy if there are “bad words” in the books–please see my post entitled Hell’s Bell’s) and one with women who work with me at Purdue. I’m going tonight to the church group to discuss The Heretic’s Daughter, and I am almost finished with Trollope’s Can you Forgive Her? (and by the way, I can’t–she’s too silly in ways that are inexplicable. WHY is she engaged to her no-good cousin who is spending her entire dowry to get into parliament? WHY did she break off her engagement to the noble John Gray? WHEN will I ever be finished with this 1,000 page plus book?)
Why do I like book groups?
1. There are usually good refreshments (I’m so shallow!)
2. There are usually smart comments (and some others that are more annoying–don’t get me started on the ending of The Life of Pi).
3. We get to talk about the men in our lives (sorry, but this is just what happens when women get together–it’s just so fun!)
4. It makes me go outside my comfort zone of books that I would pick, so that I read things I normally wouldn’t read–ok, some of them are dumb, like Twilight and anything by Rosamunde Pilcher, but others I probably wouldn’t have picked up have been great.
So I think The Heretic’s Daughter falls somewhere in the middle. I think it has moments of brilliance and absolute pathos, but other times it seems contrived and steeped in bathos. The Salem Witch trials are completely horrifying (especially to me, who would certainly have been hanged–I definitely need more social capital!) I think Kent started out really well telling the story from the point of view of Martha Carrier’s daughter, but ultimately, there wasn’t a true climax. Yes, she’s in jail and her mother is hanged, but that was obvious. What else was there at stake? Her relationship with her cousin as the crux seems strained, as does the idea that her father was the King’s executioner in England. It just didn’t pack the punch that I was expecting (and I expect a great deal from literature!)
So I will go and try not to bully everyone else, and try not to be too irritating when I point out that “ass” was not used as a word for the posterior until the 19th century (even though this was supposedly written in the 18th), and try to be nice if somebody says something I don’t agree with (I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.)
And I hope there is something chocolate!