Publication Date: September 17, 2013
Formats: Ebook, Hardcover, Paperback
On a cold night in 1692, two young girls are caught up in the divining games of a slave woman-and then begin to act very strangely when the game goes wrong. Suddenly, Salem Village is turned upside down as everyone fears that witches may be involved. Six months later, as news of the girls’ strange behavior becomes known, fear and suspicion overwhelm a nearby farming community, pitting neighbors against neighbors and turning friends into enemies. When Rebecca Eames makes one careless utterance during a verbal attack on her family, she is falsely accused of witchcraft. After her fate is decided by three magistrates, Rebecca must endure a prison sentence during which she and her fellow captives have no choice but to valiantly struggle to find humanity and camaraderie among dire conditions. In this novel based on a true story, a woman wrongly imprisoned during the seventeenth-century witchcraft trials comes full circle where she must determine if she can somehow resume her life, despite all she has endured.
Puritan Witch is based on the true story of the trials of accused witch Rebecca Eames in Andover, Massachusetts, 1692. Rebecca Eames was one of the survivors of the trials, now her direct descendant, Peni Jo Renner, has brought life to her story.
I love reading about the Salem Witch Trials, it was such an interesting part of our history. I enjoyed that this book focused on the story of a survivor of the trials. Peni Jo Renner offered insight into how Rebecca's life before she had been accused of witchcraft and gave the reader a good feel of what it was like to live during that time period. Rebecca Eames lives a hard-working life on her farm with her family. However, the Eames family have been in a long dispute with their neighbors, the Swans. When the hysteria from Salem reaches Andover, the Eames and Swan family dispute reaches it boiling point. Rebecca lashes out against her neighbor.
" It was known that out of sheer spite, Robert Swan had ordered his sons to chop down a neighbor's orchard. The Eames family had also fallen under Swan's wrath, and a cavernous rift had grown between the two households. Blood simmered in her veins like a kettle over a low fire, and she bit her lips to keep from speaking her mind...'Damn you, Robert Swan!' Rebecca blurted. 'And may the devil himself visit your home!'"
This is the type of small political disputes that caused the demise of so many people. Rebecca's story begins with an emotional outburst against her neighbor. Soon after, she is accused of witchcraft and a clear picture is painted of the time Rebecca spent in prison enduring physical and psychological pain. There is a good mix of fact and fiction; enough fiction to keep the story interesting and kept me reading, but also enough facts to match what I already know of the trials. It was probably the most interesting to learn of how Rebecca Eames survived the trials and the hangings and returned to her former life.
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Peni Renner is the author of “Puritan Witch: The Redemption of Rebecca Eames”, an award-winning historical novel based on the true-life account of Peni’s 9th great grandmother. The book is Renner’s first published work, and follows Eames’ life and struggles in 1692 Massachussetts during the Salem Witchcraft Trials.
Writing historical fiction has always been a lifelong dream of mine. I was discouraged for many years after receiving multiple rejection slips, and turned to other creative outlets like crocheting, quilting and cross-stitch for many years. Then I met a 3rd cousin of mine online who is also into geneology and history. She told me we shared a common ancestor who was involved in the Salem Witchcraft Hysteria of 1692, and her story had never been told. My love of writing was rekindled and I began to research this ancestor, Rebecca Blake Eames. In August of 2012 I had the privilege of visiting her grave in Boxford, Massachusetts.
After months and months of research, writing, rewriting and revising, Puritan Witch came into being, featuring a lovely sketch done by my sister-in-law, Jane Sisk.
I have several other story ideas I am working on at the moment, all pertaining to interesting ancestors my 3rd cousin has introduced me to.
For more information please visit the Puritan Witch Facebook Page. You can also follow Peni Jo Renner on Twitter.
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