There is nothing like a page-turner, and better yet, nothing like a bewitching summer read, and for this I turned to Suzanne Ress’ The Trial of Goody Gilbert. Ress’ enthralling novel recounts the true story of her ancestor Lydia Gilbert, who was tried for witchcraft, “proven” guilty and subsequently hanged. Prior to her trial, Goody* Gilbert was a respected healer and helper to many in colonial 1654 Windsor, CT. Once the accusations began, many citizens came forth and the events quickly spiraled out of control.
* The term “Goody” and “Goodwife” were interchangeable and used as a form of address for women in Colonial America, as well as England and Scotland.
Goody Gilbert recounts:
Having spent my earliest years in my father the Printer’s shop. A book is not a magical thing in itself—tis only the words therein that can have an effect on a man. And then only if he knows how to read and to reason. The power resides not in the object of a book, but in a man’s mind, and following that, the actions of a man. Perhaps tis fear of the mindful power that we possess that makes men want to put this power, into objects such as books, or into animals or invented creatures.
For a summer scholarly read, one might want to put Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s Good Wives Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England 1650-1750 on the list. Ulrich states “A married woman in early New England was simultaneously a housewife, a deputy husband, a consort, a mother, a mistress, a neighbor, and a Christian. On the war-torn frontier, she might become a heroine.” And using these ‘classifications’, Ulrich’s in depth research introduces us to many Goodwives and their various roles.
Suzanne Ress, The Trail of Goody Gilbert, 2012. , p 273. (Available by order at your local book store, or on Amazon, and for your kindle.)
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Good Wives Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England 1650-1750, (Vintage Books, New York, 1982), p. 9-10