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October: Crane Pond: A Novel of Salem by Richard Francis
Usually told from the perspective of the victims, the Salem Witch Trials are a forever story. The vestiges of a particular strain of American social hysteria remain with us even today. In Crane Pond, Richard Francis reveals a side of the history that is not often recounted, as he skillfully constructs a portrait of Samuel Sewall, the only judge to later admit that a terrible mistake had been made. In a colony on the edge of survival in a mysterious new world where infant mortality is high and sin is to blame, Sweall is committed to being a loving family man, a good citizen, and a fair-minded judge. Like any believing Puritan, he agonizes over what others think of him, while striving to act morally correct, keep the peace, and (hopefully make time to) enjoy a hefty slice of pie. His one regret is that only months before he didn't sentence a group of pirates to death. What begins as a touching story of a bumbling man tasked with making judgements in a society where reason is often ephemeral, quickly becomes the chilling narrative we know too well. And when public opinion wavers, Sweall learns that what has been done cannot be undone. Crane Pond explores the inner life of a well-meaning man who compormised with evil. It presents an unflinching portrayal of Sewall's efforts to piece together a new perspective from shattered preconceptions, vividly tracking his search for atonement, for peace, and ultimately for a renewal of hope. At once a searing view of the Trials from the inside out, an empathetic portrait of one of the period's most tragic and redemptive figures, and an indictment of the malevolent power of religious and political idealism, it is a thrilling new telling of one of America's founding stories.

Fireside Room at the Sorrento Hotel

900 Madison St · Seattle

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What we're about

This is a book club for fans of Historical Fiction. We meet once a month at the historic Sorrento Hotel to discuss the month's book, and it's era.

What do we consider Historical Fiction?
We categorize Historical Fiction as a fiction novel written by a contemporary but taking place in the past.

What are meetings like? Do you actually discuss the book?
There is no formal format for the meetings and type of discussion varies book by book. Many of our regular attendees enjoy learning about history through novels. So though our meetings start with discussing the book, the conversations usually diverge into talking about that era. A lot of "fact checking" happens by our members when reading so there are always fun history facts thrown around! You can also expect an anthropological conversation or two, especially when life for those in the book's time period is drastically different than ours. And sometimes, the conversation will end up somewhere else, but it's typically related to history and arrived there organically!

When do we meet?
We will meet last Monday of every month at 7pm in the Sorrento Hotel's Fireside Room. If an event is going on in the Fireside room, we meet in the bar. You pay for what you order. Though no orders are required, the Sorrento Hotel allows us to meet for free without a minimum order, so it's recommended to order at least one drink :)

How are books chosen?
Most months we will vote on books during our meeting up for two months out (I.e. in April we vote on July's book). Some months, depending on circumstances, Kat (the host) will pick. Books we be ~400 pages (and historical fiction, of course).

How strict are you on RSVPs?
After 3 no-shows without notification, you will be removed from the group. Accurate RSVPs help us prepare for meeting space size.

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