Tuesday, September 1, 2015
The Sparrow Sisters by Ellen Herrick
Granite Point is an old New England town, its roots stretching back to the earliest settlers. It's the kind of small town where if you weren't born there you will forever be an outsider. Family and tradition are valued above all else and there is no family more ancient or honored than the Sparrow Sisters. Their ancestors were founding fathers of the town but the three Sparrow sisters who live there now are the last of the family.
Sorrell is the eldest, a brunette. She and Nettie, a blonde, were old enough to be aware when their mother died in childbirth. They raised the baby, Patience, who had fiery red hair. The sisters are closer than most siblings having never lived apart from each other. None has ever married as they have not been lucky in love.
What they are lucky at is growing things. The sisters run a nursery and roadside stand as well as doing floral arrangements. Their gardens are fabled for their abundance and the vitality of their plants. Patience goes even further. She has inherited the skills of an early ancestor who was a healer and the town comes to her for potions and ointments to soothe aches and pains.
That kind of unregulated medicine strikes the new doctor in town, Henry Carlyle. Henry has come to Granite Point to recuperate from a war injury that left him unable to handle the stress and frantic pace of a city emergency room. He is not pleased to see that many of the townspeople regard him as a last resort instead of a first stop when something goes wrong with their health. He decides to meet this unlicensed healer and set her straight as to the law and her place. Unfortunately for him, he is immediately struck by Patience's beauty and wild nature and soon the two are involved in a tumultuous affair. Instead of resenting her, Henry finds himself happier than he could ever imagine.
That happiness is put in jeopardy when one of Patience's clients is found dead and the autopsy reveals an overdose of a poison that is grown in her garden. The whispers start to circulate and the rumors of her ancestor, the first healer who was tried as a witch, are revived. Soon Patience finds herself arrested for manslaughter. How will things turn out? Will the town rally behind her or unite to bring her down?
Ellen Herrick has written a fascinating novel that explores several interesting themes. There is the theme of belonging to a place and the inbred societies that tend to be established in small towns where everyone knows everyone else and their business. There is the theme of family and what one will do to support those in their hearts. Alternative medicine and natural remedies are discussed and their efficiency explored. This book seems to be the start of a series as it focuses on Patience. Sorrel and Nettie's stories remain to be told. This book is recommended for readers of modern women's fiction.