Mary Sharratt and Daughters of the Witching Hill Video

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Mary Sharratt will be one of the panelists on Reading Group Choices' panel at the Virginia Festival of The Book on March 19 in Charlottesville. I'm really excited! Mary's new novel, Daughters of the Witching Hill, is filled with great discussion points for reading groups -- mothers and daughters,  historical views of men and women, religion, forgiveness, personal, social, and moral challenges. 

Daughters of the Witching Hill takes place in Lancashire, England. Based on historical facts, Mary retells the story of the Pendle Witches and their subsequent hanging in 1612 for witchcraft. Many books have be written about the Pendle Witches but none have told the story from Bess Southerns (aka Mother Demdike) and her family's (the witches) point of view. Mary channels their voices so the reader can discover the joy and beauty and the poverty and suffering of their world. 

Mary lives on the spot where the Pendle witch-hunt unfolded. What history! She researched the court accounts and the major characters and events come from those accounts. Seven women and two men were hanged.

In this video, with the landscape of Lancashire in the background, Mary tells us why she was inspired to reveal Demdike's story. 




Mary is the author of Summit Avenue, The Real Minerva, and The Vanishing Point. An American, she lives in Lancashire, England. (That's her horse in the video!)


Starred Review

The Daughters of the Witching HillThe 1612 Lancashire, England, witch trials that resulted in nine executions inspires Sharratt’s gorgeously imagined novel that wonders if some of the accusations of witchcraft might be true. Sharratt (The Vanishing Point) focuses on the Southerns family of Pendle Forest. Widowed mother Bess Southerns tries to save her family from bleakest poverty by healing the sick, telling fortunes, and blessing those facing misfortune, conjuring “charmes” that combine forbidden Catholic ritual, medicinal herbs, and guidance provided by her spirit-friend, Tibb. Though Bess compassionately uses her powers, her granddaughter, Alizon, unwittingly endangers her family while under the interrogation of a conniving local magistrate. Sharratt crafts her complex yet credible account by seamlessly blending historical fact, modern psychology, and vivid evocations of the daily life of the poor whose only hope of empowerment lay in the black arts. Set in forests and towers, farms and villages, deep in a dungeon and on the gallows, this novel grows darker as it approaches its inevitable conclusion, but proves uplifting in its portrayal of women who persevere, and mothers and daughters who forgive. 

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