The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare follows a sixteen year-old girl who leaves her native Barbados for the colony of Connecticut in 1687. Her parents and grandfather have all died and she only has one aunt on her mother’s side. She arrives unannounced and it is apparent from the beginning she does not fit in in this Puritan town. She can swim for one thing and she is unused to hard labor and small towns having an aristocratic background.
She is immediately courted by the most eligible bachelor (and the richest) in town, William Ashby. She helps her cousin, Mercy, with the school and teaches a girl named Prudence how to read when her mother refuses to send her to school. She meets an elderly woman named Hannah who has been accused of witchcraft mainly because she lives alone and is a Quaker.
Kit is drawn to Hannah and they develop a secret friendship. Hannah offers worldly wisdom, telling her “The answer is in thy heart. Thee can always hear it if thee listens for it.”
Hannah’s magic cure for everything: Blueberry cake and a kitten.
Prudence asks why people say she’s a witch. Kit says cause people are afraid of things they don’t understand.
Hannah says there is no escape if love is not there.
Kit is attracted to Nat Eaton, a ship captain’s son, who helps Hannah as well.
A sickness develops and the Puritan colony blames Hannah the witch for cursing them. They try to run her out of town but Kit along with Nat’s help warns her in time. With Hannah gone to live in a neighboring town, the townspeople turn on Kit, claiming she is a witch as well. No evidence exists and with Prudence’s help who proves she can read and write and has not been infected by witchcraft, Kit is set free. Kit ends her courtship with William who did not come to her defense at her trial and plans to return to Barbados when winter ends.
She sees Nat in early spring who now has his own ketch, and he immediately asks her uncle for her hand in marriage.
A wonderful book with happy endings for all involved. All the love stories end up fulfilled and justice does prevail along with stereotypes being broken down. Great story of standing up for others when it’s the right thing to do even when your life is threatened. Great historical depiction of life in the early American colonies and Puritan life. Winner of the Newbery Medal in 1959. A classic of literature not to be missed.