The Glassmaker’s Wife

Dzanc. Dec. 2022. 216p. ISBN 9781950539482. pap. $16.95. F
It’s 1844 in Heathsville, IL, and 15-year-old Eveline Deal is a model house-girl. She loyally serves her mistress, Betsey Reed, and desperately wants her approval. But her real love is for Betsey’s kind husband, Leonard, a skilled craftsman in the art of glass blowing. He even plans to teach her how to blow glass. Eveline’s world implodes when Leonard takes ill and dies. She can’t lie about what she’d seen her mistress do. Leonard had angered Betsey—he’d sold land that she inherited from her father, without asking her. Eveline had also seen Betsey with another man. After Eveline hesitantly reports what she’s seen to the authorities, they arrest Betsey for murder. Then a neighbor accuses the mistress of casting spells. How can Betsey prove that she’s not a witch and has hurt no one? Eveline’s guilt at being the prosecution’s star witness tarnishes her love for her mistress; she knows her testimony might result in Betsey swinging from a noose.
VERDICT The latest novel by Martin (a Pulitzer Prize finalist for 2006’s The Bright Forever) is inspired by the true story of Betsey Reed’s 1845 trial. Fans of Chris Bohjalian’s Hour of the Witch will love this tale of loyalty, honor, and matters of the heart that leads to a traumatic conclusion.
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