Calligraphy of the Witch

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Calligraphy of the Witch

384pp

Calligraphy of the Witch is an exceptional, complex and engaging read. It tells the story of Concepci¢n Benavidez, a half Spanish, half Indian and has been educated in a Mexican convent. Concepci¢n is captured by buccaneers in Vera Cruz along with her friend Al‚ndula. Al‚ndula dies during the journey to Boston leaving Concepci¢n at the mercy of those onboard the ship.

Raped repeatedly by the ship's captain, Laurens-Cornille de Graffe, she is later sold to Nathaniel Greenwood who wants Concepci¢n so he can have someone to care for his ailing father-in-law. They rename her Thankful Seagraves. With child and also sick, Nathaniel's wife, Rebecca, takes care of Thankful for purely selfish reasons - she wants to make her unborn child her own. Thankful gives birth to a girl, Hanna, and tries to make a life for her and her daughter in colonial America. But thinks take a turn for the worse when she is turned in as a witch by her own daughter, Hanna.

Calligraphy of the Witch is filled with complex plot twists. The short chapters and Concepci¢n's narration via her own written words make for a compelling storyline set along the backdrop of the Salem Witch Trials in the latter part of the novel. This book is a fresh take on the Salem Witch Trials. Alicia Gaspar de Alba's offers up rich, vivid descriptions, which takes you right into the story. Calligraphy of the Witch was an intriguing story that was bittersweet at times but nevertheless a worthwhile read.


Book Blurb for Calligraphy of the Witch

Mexico, 1683. When Concepci¢n Benavidez flees her indenture from the convent of San Jer¢nimo in Mexico City and sets out to join a band of refugee slaves along with her friend Al‚ndula, the two are captured by buccaneers in Vera Cruz led by the famed Laurens-Cornille de Graaf, who is running a slave- and provisions ship headed for New England. Al‚ndula dies on the journey, but Concepci¢n, upon arrival, is renamed Thankful Seagraves and sold to a Boston merchant, Nathaniel Greenwood, who plans to have her care for his crippled father-in-law and manage the Old Man's chicken farm. Delirious, half-starved, and terrified by her ordeal on board the Neptune, during which the Captain raped her repeatedly, Thankful Seagraves gives birth to a daughter, coveted by Rebecca, Nathaniel's fallow wife, and over the next eight years struggles to adapt herself into English colonial life. With great difficulty she attempts to raise her daughter in the faith and language of New Spain and thus forge a connection between herself and the girl even while Rebecca slowly turns Hanna against her. Like her friend, Tituba Indian, Concepci¢n is a perpetual outsider-her mixed-race looks as well as her accent and her Catholic background set her apart-and before long she gets swept up in the hysteria of the Salem witchcraft trials of 1692, culminating in a shocking accusation by her own daughter, who renounces her mother and declares her a witch.


Night Owl Reviews Dec, 2007 4.00