The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
Unabridged, 6 hr. 24 min.
Mary Beth Hurt (Narrator)
November 7, 2003
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Source: Downloaded the Audio from my Local Library
“Orphaned Kit Tyler knows, as she gazes for the first time at the cold, bleak shores of Connecticut Colony, that her new home will never be like the shimmering Caribbean island she left behind. In her relatives' stern Puritan community, she feels like a tropical bird that has flown to the wrong part of the world, a bird that is now caged and lonely. The only place where Kit feels completely free is in the meadows, where she enjoys the company of the old Quaker woman known as the Witch of Blackbird Pond, and on occasion, her young sailor friend Nat. But when Kit's friendship with the "witch" is discovered, Kit is faced with suspicion, fear, and anger. She herself is accused of witchcraft!”
I remember starting to read this book several times when I was a kid; however I never made it very far because something else would come up and I would put it down and forget about it. The next time I picked it up I would start at the beginning again…you can see where this is going. So I finally decided I was going to actually read this book this time – and since I didn’t remember anything about the book, I’m glad that I started at the beginning again.
The other really cool thing, which, again, I didn’t realize the first times I tried to read it, is that the book is set literally less than 3 miles from where I work. Reading about historic Wethersfield, CT lead me to find out that there is actually a historic district that you can go visit and tour etc. More to come on that later. I never realized that this area I drive through almost daily was a historic area that people actually came to visit – a new outlook on life!
The plot of this book was very intriguing. It is set a few years prior to the witch trials of Salem that everyone thinks of, but you can certainly see how the panic could come to a head. I think that the novel is really, at its heart, about the fear of those who were different, and not necessarily because they performed witchcraft – although that was certainly the case in some instances. Kit was a very distinct example of how this fear of those who are different could escalate and become quite dangerous. Nowadays we realize (sometimes) that people from different places bring different ways with them. In Blackbird Pond, Kit comes to Connecticut from Barbados, and it is a starkly different life that the local Puritans do not understand. She gets herself into a lot of sticky situations by just trying to be herself.
The characters were ones that I could really like. No one was truly bad, everyone had their flaws. There were some times that I found Kit very idealistic and a little annoying, but I think that was just the overemphasis of how different she was from those around her.
The plot was fast paced, with something always happening. Like I said, Kit gets herself in a bunch of tight spots. The climax and resolution were well done. It was a fun read really showing the dynamic difference between life in Puritan New England and island Barbados.
The narration of this book was well done. The narrator provided distinctly different voice styles for the local Puritans of New England and Kit with her Barbados style. It was very easy to know who was speaking at any one time.
Author Elizabeth George Speare also has written The Sign of the Beaver, The Bronze Bow, and Calico Captive, among others. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?
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