Literate Housewife Spotlight ~ October

October 1, 2008 at 10:15 pm | Posted in Books, Culture, Family, Historical Fiction, LIfe, Reading, Religion | 11 Comments
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Several months ago, when I was compiling the list of books I’ve reviewed for this blog, I found some that I had forgotten all about.  That doesn’t necessarily meant that I didn’t enjoy them.  They just didn’t stick with me.  There were others that easily remembered and know that they were read and raved about by other authors.  There were still others, however, that I truly loved that I have not found much other discussion about at all.  I couldn’t quite figure out why more people hadn’t reviewed them.  The more I thought about this, the more the idea of featuring these novels in a different way started to shape and take form.  That idea is becoming a reality this month in my first installment of the Literate Housewife Spotlight.  Every other month I will be featuring a book that has stayed with me after I closed it for the last time.  It is a book that I believe in and want to share with you.  As part of the Literate Housewife Spotlight,  each Thursday I will post something new about the book, its topics, or its author.  I hope that you get as much out of this as I do.  Mostly, I hope to encourage you to find a copy of the book and check it out for yourself.

The first novel featured in The Literate Housewife Spotlight is The Witch’s Trinity by Erika Mailman.  I read this novel last winter and was drawn into the world of Güde Müller, an elderly woman living in early 16th century Germany.  It was a time of superstition, just ripe for the witch trials sweeping through Europe.

Witchcraft, witch trials, and the political and social vulnerability of women are timely themes.  I’ve recently read Sisters of Misery by Megan Kelly Hall and have read several wonderful reviews of The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent.  Both of these novels take place in or near Salem, Massachusetts.  The Sisters of Misery takes place in modern day while The Heretic’s Daughter takes place during the height of the witch trials in the United States.  During Salman Rushdie’s discussion about his newest novel, The Enchantress of Florence, he touched on these topics as well.  He made one especially interesting observation.  The now stereotypical signs of witchcraft in that day and age, the pointy hat, the broom, and even the cat were common to almost any woman.  If the woman was ugly, that could be the sign of a witch.  If the woman was beautiful, she was a temptress for the devil.  In every situation, all that was ever needed was an accusation.  That is it.  In essence, all a woman needed to be was eccentric, envied, hated, or seen as an easy scapegoat to be a witch.  Imagine what it must have felt like to know that a witch hunter was coming to town.  What would you do to survive?

The following is a reprint of my review from February of this year:

The Witch’s Trinity tells the story of Güde Müller, an elderly grandmother who lives with her only son Jost and his family. They live in Tierkinddorf, Germany and have been experiencing two years of extreme famine. The strain of living without adequate food is taking its toll on the family and the town as a whole. Güde can tell how much Irmeltrud, Jost’s wife, resents her being alive and taking food that would ordinarily go to her children. After a Catholic priest is called in to investigate whether witches are to blame for the town’s hard luck, one of Güde’s childhood friend is burned at the stake. Still, the town is desperate. The able-bodied men leave the village in search of food. While they are gone, the village starts to turn on one another and it seems that no one is safe from being accused of witchcraft.

This book had a powerful affect on me. It made it difficult for me to sleep well for almost a week. It’s unbelievable the things that humans will do to one another and it’s frightening how open women and the elderly are to abuses of many kinds. It’s especially shameful how women turn on each other instead of supporting each other. The terror experienced by Güde and other helpless citizens of Tierkinddorf was so believable that there were entire sections of this book that had my heart racing. I left this book feeling thankful to be alive in 2008 instead of 1608. Witch trials make workplace cattiness seem like child’s play.

As with many books, The Witch’s Trinity was tidied up too quickly and neatly. I would still suggest that anyone interested in witch trials or the plight of women or the elderly read it. You will continue to think about this book and its themes long after you’ve finished it. That certainly sets this novel by Erika Mailman apart from the rest.

The Witch’s Trinity is being published in paperback on October 7th.  Over the course of this month, Erika Mailman is graciously offering copies of this novel to three lucky readers.  Come back each week for details on how you can win your own copy of this novel.  Not willing to leave it to luck?  Click here to order a hard cover copy of this novel for yourself.


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  1. I really liked this book when I read it a while ago.
    Marg, if you have reviewed it, please let me know. I’ll add a link to your review. On the 23rd I’m going to post a guest post by Erika and on the 31st I’m going to be posting an interview with her. Come back and check it out if you get a chance.

  2. That sounds like quite a book. I’d never heard of it before. You must have reviewed it before I discovered your blog.
    That’s exactly why I’m doing this. We all find blogs at different times and, despite our best efforts, we don’t always catch what’s happened in the past. This way I can highlight books I’ve really loved over the past two years. I’m really looking forward to working on this with Erika this month.

  3. Oh, this sounds really interesting! Because exactly what I need right now is more books for my TBR pile. 🙂
    I am nothing if not an enabler. 😉

  4. This is a great idea, Jennifer.

    I am so intrigued by these witchcraft accusations – it spans so many years, cultures and countries.

    I recall them in Immortal to, as well as World Without End by Ken Follett. In both cases, the accusers looked for a ‘mark’ which, at least in WWE could be something as innocuous as a freckle or mole.


    Salman mentioned the freckle and mole “evidence” as well. I’m hoping to find an audio clip of his talk at the festival to make available. What he said about witchcraft really hit home with me. I’m hoping to compile a list of novels that tackle this topic and Immortal will definitely be among them. Thanks for the heads-up on World Without End. I’ve never read the book or any reviews. I’ve got a lot of investigating to do.

  5. I’ve been eyeing that one for awhile. I’m coming back and enter to win! Thanks!
    Please do! You will love this novel!

  6. I remember when you mentioned this novel before Jennifer and I thought it sounded fascinating then too. Anything with Salem and witch trials is right up my alley. I have this on my tbr list so I’ll check back-maybe win a copy-if not, buy one. lol.
    With the exception of classics that I read in high school, this was the first novel I read that touched on witch trials. I like that it was in Germany and took place well before the Salem witch trials. If anything, we should have known better. It’s amazing how we will let ourselves get away with our own ignorance.

  7. This book sounds really good! I’m very interested in this kind of thing, because one of my great great greats on my Father’s side was tried as a witch and got off! She lived to tell the tale.

    If I don’t win this, I might just have to buy it.
    Thanks, J!
    Chartroose, this book really is right up your alley. Erika has family who were involved in the witch trials. She’s writing a guest post for the 23rd and I’ll be posting an interview on the 31st. I’ll be sure to cover her family history in my interview. Good luck in the contests!

  8. Chartroose,
    My ancestor also “got off” the hook…She was actually tried for witchcraft twice, with the trials 18 years apart.

    I really like hearing about women and men who were released. It’s heartening that sometime the courts actually listened to the evidence (even while believing in witchcraft) and found the accused to be innocent.

    My ancestor was Mary Bliss Parsons of Springfield and Northampton, Massachusetts–who was yours?

    Also thanks to the other commenters who expressed interest in my book. Keep checking back for Jennifer’s contest to win a copy of the brand-new paperback!

  9. I found that since I started blogging, I’m not forgetting as many books as quickly.

  10. […] October Spotlight ~ Week 2 ~ The Contests October 9, 2008 at 12:39 pm | In Books, Culture, Historical Fiction, Reading | Tags: Erika Mailman, Literate Housewife Spotlight, October Spotlight, The Witch’s Trinity, win a free book This is the second week for The Literate Housewife October Spotlight featuring The Witch’s Trinity by Erika Mailman.  In case you missed the original post, click here. […]

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