Crane Pond: A Novel of Salem

Richard Francis (Judge Sewall's Apology) turns to historical fiction to tell the story of a Salem witch trials judge from a personal perspective. Crane Pond is an intimate look at this 17th-century American colonist, who married the first black couple in Boston, was a devoted brother, husband and father, and always strove to do what was right. Told in Samuel Sewall's voice, the novel delves into the mind and emotions of the only judge to publicly ask forgiveness for his role in the tragedy that resulted in 20 innocent women being hung.

Sewall is a simple character in a complex situation. He has strong faith, but this faith brings contradictions that leave him praying for guidance and strength, seeing signs in nature's unpredictability and following the demands of leaders whose idealism blind them to the evil they evoke in their followers. Crane Pond offers a compassionate view of this mortal in his struggles to do what is best, despite his ultimate failure. Readers may find the struggle between religion and politics familiar.

Richard Francis's in-depth knowledge of his character and the era makes Crane Pond eerily authentic, while his empathy for Sewall provides a rare perspective of an event that has long captivated readers. Francis also guides his audience into the period with convincing language that captures the atmosphere but doesn't require translation. Crane Pond is fascinatingly engaging and thought provoking, the best kind of storytelling. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

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