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Summary

Can she save herself from a witch's fate?

Martha is a feisty and articulate young woman, the daughter of a wheelwright, living in a Herefordshire village in Elizabethan England. Unusually for the time she is educated and so helps at the local school whilst longing to escape the confines and small-mindedness of a community riven by religious bigotry and poverty. 

As she is able to read and is well-versed in herbal remedies she is suspected of being a witch. When a landslip occurs - opening up a huge chasm in the centre of the village - she is blamed for it and pursued remorselessly by the villagers.

But can her own wits and the love of local stablehand Jacob save her from a witch's persecution and death?

A brilliant and accomplished novel that perfectly captures the febrile atmosphere of Elizabethan village life in an age when suspicion and superstition were rife. Perfect for fans of Tracy Chevalier.

©2020 Eleanor Porter (P)2020 Boldwood Books

Critic reviews

"It's a gripping story and such accomplished writing. I really enjoyed every moment of working on it." (Yvonne Holland, editor of Philippa Gregory and Tracy Chevalier) 

What listeners say about The Wheelwright's Daughter

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A powerful evocation of life as an outsider

Rooted in the strange red-clay ridged landscape of this particular corner of Herefordshire and woven around an actual geological event, the Wheelwright's Daughter is both a disturbing and sometimes heartening exploration of the best and worst of human nature.
In times of tumult peoples' minds grasp for meaning. All the more so in that time when the transition to scientific rationality was at its beginning. Superstition looks for outsiders to blame and Martha is an outsider in so many ways. Gripping, moving and beautiful.

1 person found this helpful

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Historical novel at its best

I’ve always liked historical novels but for many years now I’ve stuck with modern thrillers.

But, this is a brilliant weaving of history associated with many true facts from part of the country where I live. The author has woven together those facts with all the superstitions and class barriers that abounded at that time, and some touching romance.

At the end of the book we are left with either having to assume the final fate of our heroine or, I understand, there is a second book which perhaps holds the answer.

I will have to buy it!! Even if it doesn’t provide the answer, if it’s written as brilliantly as this one then it will be worth it.

The narrator is brilliant. She captures the accents with aplomb and usually I find with all narrators the reading of the opposite gender to themselves is sometimes difficult to accept but she has it to a tee.



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Really hard work!

I found this tale of woe and misery extremely hard work to listen to and understand. The beginning chapters took so long to get going and we’re such a diatribe of sadness and grief and anxiety that I gave up and listened to another book.
Returning to give the story a second chance, I upped the speed to try to get through to the crux of the novel. The reader’s voice is repetitive and lacks intonation so that almost every sentence rises and falls to such a monotone I found myself having to rewind and listen again to many passages.
I won’t give the end away, but like another reviewer I found it is unsatisfactory and somewhat sudden.
Yes, it paints a picture of the rank and dismal life of the time, and the surly women of the tale along with the evil Father Paul are hateful; but it’s not enough to make me recommend this book.

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So annoyed by the ending

On the whole I enjoyed this book. I haven't come across many books that show just how easily lives were destroyed by the accusation of witchcraft and the cruelty, unfairness and manipulation that was used to rid people of someone they disliked. I was utterly absorbed. But when I got to the end, it was as if the author ran out of time to finish it. I was very disappointed by the ending, which is why I couldn't give it 5 stars.

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  • kanga2012
  • 19-01-21

Fear makes fools of us all.

The time is 1570. A woman knows how to make healing herbs and is often called upon by her neighbors. Then a freak of nature that the village folks can not comprehend causes them to seek someone to blame. This is an old old story of women being accused of witchcraft. Ignorant folks, once friends, turn against an innocent girl.
I have read many tales such as this especially as I am descended from a woman accused in Salem so long ago. As I read and listen to these stories I become so enraged I want to reach out and throttle those who are twisting the story for their own power and gain.
This tale was well written however I had to listen to the epilogue a second time as the reader is left hanging. Luckily I discovered there is a sequel to be released in February 2021.
I will say I was a bit turned off by the narrator at the beginning. She speaks so slowly for Martha and not so for the other characters. I realized as the story unfolded her dramatization of Martha was on target for the emotions she was feeling throughout the book.

1 person found this helpful