Winsor paints a vivid description of the difficulties of a young woman destined to be a healer and a seer, an apprentice of an older woman, in Ireland in the mid 1800’s. Superstition and bad luck places Molly Chant in a dire situation. Cast out as a witch, Molly is meant to be hung by the neck until she is rescued by a man that exclaims her only chance to live is to flee on a ship heading to Newfoundland.
Her savior takes her to the ship whose crew is rough and ill-mannered, the Captain has no morals. Only one man, Ignatius Flynn, treats her with some degree of kindness. When the ship docks in St. John’s, Molly chant flees. And there begins the hardship Molly must endure in order to survive. Ignatius Flynn follows her.
Winsor takes us to an outport of Newfoundland. Her words are rich with description, the land and the people, their families and the difficulties of life in the small fishing village of Silver Cape Cove.
She studied the rocks, great jagged things sticking out of the water, ready to accept a boat, or a body thrown at it by the heaving seas. Her hands gripped the wooded seat beneath her. The land, framed by grey clouded skies, so sparse and rugged. The gulls screeching at them. She pressed her chin to her chest. She had to accept into her heart now, she was home.
While Molly’s life is bereft of any kindness and happiness, she finds comfort in Flynn, someone willing to accept her healing and seeing abilities. Once more Molly faces accusations of being a witch for her salves and potions. Molly Chant worships the Mother, the religion of her forbearers and for this she is treated as an outsider. Her life in Silver Cape Cove is one of sorrow and survival.
The Apprenticeship of Molly Chant is a compelling read. Well researched, the dialogue fitting for the time period. You will be rooting for this young woman whose heart is in the right place. You will share her tears and hopes for the future. You will be rewarded with an ending you could not have imagined. For those interested in well documented historical fiction, this is a novel for you.
About the Author: Jeanette Winsor, born in Bonavista, Newfoundland is an author, teacher, and avid reader. She is a graduate of The Humber School for Writers (Toronto). The Apprenticeship of Molly Chant is based on the actual research of Dr. Barbara Rieti of Memorial University of Newfoundland around the concept of witches in the Bonavista area around that time.
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