My Wednesday wanna-read this week is what I’m calling a narrative history.
While The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff is non-fiction, reviewers say it reads more like a narrative. In other words, it’s true but it reads like it is fiction.
There are quite a few non-fiction books that read this way. Erik Larson’s works are some that immediately jump to mind.
And if we’re being honest, history can be dull to read about. (I say this with a B.A. in history, so I spent a LOT of time reading dull, dry, academic works.)
There is a way to make history writing informative and entertaining, while still getting those citations in. According to her reviewers, Schiff has mastered the art.
The Witches focuses on the Salem Witch Trials and the hysteria surrounding them in the colonial era.
From Goodreads: “It began in 1692, over an exceptionally raw Massachusetts winter, when a minister’s daughter began to scream and convulse. It ended less than a year later, but not before 19 men and women had been hanged and an elderly man crushed to death.”
Schiff previously has written about Cleopatra and Vera, Vladimir Nabokov’s wife. Her writing has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize more than once, with her taking home the prize for Vera.
I look forward to reading this work, and Cleopatra (which I own), to learn more about these women who had a profound impact on history.