6 August 2001
Copyright 2001 Gale Group Inc.
CELIA REES, READ BY JENNIFER EHLE, WITH CAROL SHELLEY. Listening Library, unabridged, four cassettes, 5 hrs., 38 mins., $26
With her smooth yet wary tone, British stage and screen actress Ehle fits well the character of Mary, a 14-year-old girl whose grandmother/caretaker was hanged as a witch in 1659 England, and who is fearful that authorities will discover her own special powers. After her grandmother's death, a mysterious woman--who, she learns, is the mother who abandoned her years before--whisks Mary away from her small, dirty village. The wealthy woman gives Mary a new identity and everything she needs to secure passage on a Puritan-filled ship sailing to America. The congregation eventually ends up in a remote Massachusetts settlement called Beulah, where Mary's willingness to befriend Native Americans in the area arouses suspicion. When some of the Puritan girls who already have it in for Mary begin acting strangely, the same minister who convicted Mary's grandmother arrives to investigate. Mary then faces scrutiny that she worries will cost her own life. Ehle's strong performance as Mary, cautious yet prone to show flash es of naivete, is compelling, but it's not enough to keep listeners hooked on a story line that drags in too many places. Ages 12-up. (July)