The Witchfinder's  Sister by Beth UnderdownThe Witchfinder's  Sister by Beth Underdown

The Witchfinder's Sister

byBeth Underdown

Hardcover | May 23, 2017

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'The number of women my brother Matthew killed, so far as I can reckon it, is one hundred and six...' ***WINNER OF THE HWA DEBUT CROWN AWARD 2017*** 'Vivid and terrifying' Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train 'A compelling debut from a gifted storyteller' Sarah Perry, author of The Essex Serpent ------------------------------------------------ 1645. When Alice Hopkins' husband dies in a tragic accident, she returns to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives. But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which he is gathering women's names. To what lengths will Matthew's obsession drive him? And what choice will Alice make, when she finds herself at the very heart of his plan? Based on a true story, this beautiful and haunting historical thriller is perfect for fans of Sarah Waters, The Miniaturist and Burial Rites. ------------------------------------------------ 'A clever, pacey read that blends truth and fiction...what elevates this book above other historical thrillers are the questions that Underdown asks about the nature of power, fear and how easy it is to become complicit in terrible acts' The Times 'A chilling, creeping novel with very obvious parallels to more modern forms of witch-hints and misogyny, but is still firmly rooted in an England torn apart by civil war and gripped by religious fervour' Red 'A haunting, brooding debut' Psychologies 'At once a feminist parable and an old-fashioned, check-twice-under-the-bed thriller' Patrick Gale 'A richly told and utterly compelling tale, with shades of Hilary Mantel' Kate Hamer, author of The Girl in the Red Coat 'Anyone who liked Cecilia Ekback's Wolf Winter is going to love this' Natasha Pulley, author of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street 'Beth Underdown grips us from the outset and won't let go...at once a feminist parable and an old-fashioned, check-twice-under-the-bed thriller' Patrick Gale, author of Notes from an Exhibition 'A tense, surprising and elegantly-crafted novel' Ian McGuire, author of The North Water 'Beth Underdown cleverly creates a compelling atmosphere of dread and claustrophobia... Even from the distance of nearly four hundred years, her Matthew Hopkins is a genuinely frightening monster' Kate Riordan 'A tense, surprising and elegantly-crafted novel' Ian McGuire, author of The North Water 'Superb: dark, terrifying and utterly compelling' Tracy Borman 'A novel for our times. Beth Underdown's The Witchfinder's Sister explores another time and another place to lay bare the visceral horror of what a witch hunt truly is' New York Times Book Review 'Entertaining and thought-provoking, with a valuable message for our own times' Washington Post
Beth Underdown lectures in Creative Writing at the University of Manchester. Her first novel, The Witchfinder's Sister, is based on the life of the 1640s witchfinder Matthew Hopkins. Beth's interest in seventeenth-century England was sparked by the work of her great-uncle David Underdown, one of that period's foremost historians. She c...
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Title:The Witchfinder's SisterFormat:HardcoverDimensions:368 pages, 8.8 × 5.7 × 1.3 inPublished:May 23, 2017Publisher:Penguin UkLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0241978033

ISBN - 13:9780241978030

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very good. A few questions left unanswered. A very well written story; humane and realistic. We often think the past was an easier time, a simpler time. In some respects, yes. But in truth, it is hard to imagine the reality of witch hunts as they spread through Europe and ultimately the United States. Every story I read of this genre has the truthful bits that prompted the fiction at the end. I like that- so interesting how the stories are woven to show what it was really like. Was Joseph actually the product of Bridget and Alice's father's d'alliance? Is this why Bridget, Matthew and the mother opposed Alice and Joseph marrying; because they are actually half siblings from the same father? And the reason for miscarriages? Alice mentions early on that she and Joseph have similar colouring while Matthew is dark. Just curious because it is alluded to but never specified.
Date published: 2017-11-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Well Researched Although the story begins slowly, it ultimately picks up in the 2nd third. It is a tale about Alice and her brother Matthew. When Alice returns home pregnant after her husband's death, she finds a brother obsessed with the hunt for witches. Matthew truly is a vile villain, and is based upon a true historical figure who lived during the 17th century. The story evokes sympathy for the plight of women during that time - helpless to prevent blame for anything from the death of a person to soured milk. The author did an outstanding job with research and her prose is splendid. All in all, this was a very enjoyable novel that teaches us about the horrors of centuries past. Recommended!
Date published: 2017-05-31

Bookclub Guide

1. What kind of character is Rebecca West? Do you sympathize with her?2. What do you think made ordinary people look the other way during the witch hunts—or participate in them? What do you think led some of the accused women to testify against their own neighbors and family members?3. Do you think magic and the devil have a real presence in the book? Do you think Alice believes in these things?4. What do you think about Alice’s relationship with her mother-in-law, Bridget? Do you think Alice is always fair to Bridget (and vice versa)? Does their relationship change over the course of the book?5. Matthew’s mother (Alice’s stepmother) is clearly mentally as well as physically unwell. How do the characters in the book (including Matthew) understand and react to this?6. What do you think it is that Matthew ultimately wants? Does he want love, the respect of his peers, or something else?7. Why do you think Matthew wants to keep Alice in his household? Why doesn’t he just let her leave?8. Do you like Alice? Do you think she should have acted sooner or done more to stop Matthew?9. Do you think Alice is a reliable narrator? Why?10. By the end of the book, does Alice think Matthew is evil? Do you?11. How did you feel about the ending overall?12. What do you make of it when Alice refuses the vicar’s proposal? Do we learn anything about how Alice thinks about marriage from what she tells us about her marriage to Joseph?13. How do you feel about Alice losing her child? Do you think it changes her? How do you think that losing a child (or many children) might have been a similar or a different experience in 1645 compared with today?14. How was the status of women in society different in 1645 than it is today? What role do you think this had in allowing Matthew Hopkins’s witch hunts to happen?