Remember the Salem Witch trials? It’s a time period cloaked in mysteries and Susan Meissner has written a powerful book that delves deep into love, fear, and how prejudice and judgment affects three separate generations of women—a young Puritan girl, an elderly librarian, and a college student.
Here’s what a reviewer from Publishers Weekly wrote:
Meissner’s newest novel is potentially life-changing, the kind of inspirational fiction that prompts readers to call up old friends, lost loves or fallen-away family members to tell them that all is forgiven and that life is too short for holding grudges. Achingly romantic, the novel features the legacy of Mercy Hayworth-a young woman convicted during the Salem witch trials-whose words reach out from the past to forever transform the lives of two present-day women. These book lovers-Abigail Boyles, elderly, bitter and frail, and Lauren Lars Durough, wealthy, earnest and young-become unlikely friends, drawn together over the untimely death of Mercy, whose precious diary is all that remains of her too short life. And what a diary! Mercy’s words not only beguile but help Abigail and Lars together face life’s hardest struggles about where true meaning is found, which dreams are worth chasing and which only lead to emptiness, and why faith and hope are essential on life’s difficult path. Meissner’s prose is exquisite and she is a stunning storyteller. This is a novel to be shared with friends. (Sept. 16)
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A few weeks back, I e-mailed Susan, asking her to share a bit about why she’d written the book—what event in her life planted seeds for this book. Susan wrote back, saying ~
When I was 13, I played the role of an innocent woman accused of witchcraft in the play To Burn a Witch. To save herself, my character at the eleventh hour began to accuse another young woman in her prison cell – a friend from her village – of bewitching her. The play ends with my character being freed and the likewise innocent friend – who would not lie to save herself – being led away to her execution.
I’ve never forgotten how it felt to imagine myself accused falsely, nor what it felt like to accuse falsely. The latter has actually been more haunting. To point a finger at someone and make a declaration about him or her based on nothing more than fear is to make friends with love’s enemy. I had read The Crucible years ago in high school, but I didn’t really make the connection between what happened in Salem in 1692 with what continues to happen with sad regularity all the time: We often judge what we don’t understand, when we are afraid or when we become indifferent to our ignorance. But the truly amazing thing is, while the Salem witch trials arguably revealed the worst in us, it also laid bare the bit of divine in us that shines even in the darkest place. When faced with death, there is still courage enough within us to stand for what is right. Those who lost their lives so long ago in Salem refused to confess they had an allegiance with Satan. In writing The Shape of Mercy, I found that kind of fidelity to God remarkable – and this is what I now think of when I think of Salem, not a hangman’s rope but utter devotion to Truth.
To read about or order: Amazon
Susan’s book and mine were released on the same day by our amazing publisher WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, and I’d like to run a contest that offers a chance for five people to win both books. So, the contest this time includes a chance to win The Shape of Mercy and When the Soul Mends. There will be five winners chosen, each will win an autographed copy of both books. All you need to do is leave a comment. Anyone who joined the last contest after a winner was chosen will have their comment moved to this contest section.
Next blog post: Finding Hannah
My next post will include an article about my search to find Hannah for book two in Sisters of the Quilt series. As book one closed, she was seventeen years old with an eighth-grade education and nothing but a few clothes, a medical book, and a lifetime of broken dreams and betrayal. But imagination alone couldn’t find her, so I went in search of her secret.
If you posted to the last blog entry after a winner was chosen, your comment will be moved to this post and you’ll be entered into this contest.