The great success last year of Stacy Schiff’s The Witches proves, once again, that abiding interest in the Salem Witch Trials remains high. Richard Francis’s stunning novel Crane Pond is the story of Samuel Sewall, loving father and husband, anti-slavery advocate, defender of Native American rights, and presiding judge at the Salem Witchcraft Trials in 1692, where he sentenced twenty innocent women to death. He was the only judge to later admit his terrible mistake, and ask for forgiveness. 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, Crane Pond explores the inner life of a well-meaning man who did evil. It humanizes an unflinching portrait of political hysteria that is as relevant today as it was in the seventeenth century.
Richard Francis, Sewall’s most lauded biographer, seamlessly marries rigorous research and astute understanding of a deeply complex character to a compelling dramatic framework sure to enchant readers of quality historical fiction.
“[Taking Apart the Poco Poco is] a comic novel with a heart and soul, the kind of book one always wants to read but can never find.” — Nick Hornby, The Observer
“[Judge Sewall’s Apology is] the most balanced and richly contextualized account of the Salem trials currently in print.” —John Adamson, Sunday Telegraph
“Francis writes with rare elegance and a well-turned wit.” —Miranda Seymour, The Daily Telegraph
“The Whispering Gallery is beautifully written . . . This is a piece of work that should not be missed.”—Newgate Calendar, The New York Times
Richard Francis was educated at Cambridge and Harvard. He has written 17 books, both fiction and nonfiction, including a number of books on American history and thought. His award-winning novels and books of nonfiction have been published by leading houses in London and New York, including Fourth Estate, Simon & Schuster, Harper Collins, W.W. Norton, Faber & Faber, and Pantheon. He and his wife live in Bath.