The Elegant Witch - By Robert Neill
This book was purchased On my Birthday, April 2nd 2011 up in North Adams MA. The store is called Sanford & Kid, and this particular book was thrown in with a group of other misfits on the first floor.
It took me about ten perusal minutes to find it among the others. You see, I have a knack for looking at the books whose titles and bindings are too hard to read from the outside. I like having to open them and look - it gives you an idea of their flavor. How does it smell? Old and unused? If that is the case, then I feel the need to try and read it! Does it smell of some woman's perfume? Then it was loved already, and probably needs a bit of a rest before I crack the binding again. Does it have those NEW page smells? The processed paper with the glossy cover and the flimsy sheets? Because sometimes I just want something that smells old.
'The Elegant Witch' was one such as that. So I purchased it for about 4 dollars (What a steal! Hard cover and in excellent shape as well!) and took it home - along with a comic book about a squirrell samurai. (Story for another time.)
I have just finished the first few chapters. And as opposed to being a dry, humorless tome filled with advanced vocabulary just for the sake of HAVING advanced vocabulary, I can actually understand more then half of the things described therein! Of course, certain older items of clothing and their descriptions are lost on me, but that is what an imagination is for. It takes place in Early 17th Century England, and from what I read of the reviews (Which were few and far between, may I add) It noted that it was based upon the Pendle Witch Trials. (Of which, I would very much like to learn more.)
The Main Character is Margery Whitaker, a 16 year old girl raised in a Puritan household - though not conforming to it's dry, bitter ways. She delights in bright clothing, and smiling at boys, and using the wit God gave her. She is decidedly charming. Her family - siblings because her parents both passed on - cannot decide on what to do with her. Eventualy they decide it would be best just to marry her off; but first, they need a dowery so they can finally be free of her. Assuming of course no one would marry her otherwise, Margery is shipped off to her cousin, because none of her immediate family is willing to give a dowery to such an 'unwieldly' young lady.
I don't want to give away too much more. She and her cousin end up getting along very well. The style has a certain, 'I-was-written-in-a-very-stuffy-society' lilt to it, where sentences happen to drag on, and large words are inserted at strategically awkward locations in the sentence, if only to prove a pont, however little the worth of the point may end up being....
However, It is also a very witty book, with a main character that I actually feel that I can relate to and engage with. And I LOVE her cousin. LOVE. I LOVE ROGER NOWELL. (Her cousin.)
It opened a little slow, however I was able to eat it up after a few pages. At present, I feel that the pace is very healthy, and I'm not being left too far behind. I think the only thing legitimately tripping me up is his enthusiastic, (and I hear, very accurate,) descriptions of period items and clothing. I really don't have any idea what half the things that Margery is wearing actually are. But hey, I am assured that they look lovely on her, and I trust Mr. Neill so far!
It's OTHER/Original title is "Mist over Pendle" which is what it was called when it was released in Europe. Not sure why they changed it to the Elegant Witch, but ah well, there you go.