Sunday, September 1, 2019

The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs by Katherine Howe

I read as fast as I could, but I didn't quite get all my August reads done before midnight last night. However, I did finish this novel last night at 11:30! Wahoo! I managed to finish 7 out of 11 books, with one extra tossed in, and I'm part way through The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis. I've spent the last few days staying home and reading, and reluctantly folding laundry. 

This is Katherine Howe's follow up to The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. A few things made this read a little more of a struggle than it should have been, and they were absolutely my fault. It's been a number of years since I read Deliverance Dane, and I forgot a lot of the book. I know I enjoyed it, and it was really good, but I couldn't remember much of the plot. When I started this sequel, it was taking me a lot of time to remember what had happened, and where the characters were now. As a rule, I don't go back and re-read books, but it probably would have been smart to do in this case. In any case, I did catch on after awhile. I also kept putting the book down, then picking it up days later. This didn't help me stay on track, either. Connie Goodwin is a professor of American history in Boston, and is on a tenure track at her university. She's living with Sam, her partner and a main character in Deliverance Dane. Connie is busy mentoring a new PhD student-Zazi, and putting together her tenure papers. One of her major projects is finishing a book about magic and witchcraft, but she's still looking for that special something that will complete her book. 

Everything changes when Connie realizes she's pregnant. Visiting her mom at the old family home in Marblehead, her mom knows what's up-after all, both are descended from magical women, and both have some pretty amazing gifts. Only problem is that the women in Connie's family can't keep their husbands and their children. Connie knows, through her research, that the men in the family always die tragically, and early. Terrified to lose Sam, she has to find a way to break the cycle. Only one woman's husband lived to a very old age-Temperance Hobbs. How did she break the cycle? Connie's in a race against time to uncover family secrets, find the spell, and free Sam from a certain early death before she tells him she's pregnant. On top of that, she's got a previous student pushing her to recommend him for a big job at Harvard, and tension with Sam because she's refused to marry him. 

The politics in academia are a big part of this novel, and so much of what gives Connie her stress. I loved the setting in Boston, and the background of early American history. And of course, I'm always fascinated by the magic and witchcraft aspect. There is a part of me that wishes I had taken the deep dive into academia, and pursued graduate degrees in American history. This book certainly poked at that dream a bit! 

So. I would recommend reading Deliverance Dane first, then read this novel. Too much time had passed for me to remember and connect the dots quickly. I was a bit frustrated with Connie at times; she should have confided in Sam sooner than she did, way at the end of the book. The back and forth between Connie and her ancestors, and their experiences as healers was really interesting, and I of course loved the history of it all. The cast of characters were solid, and I liked them all--I even understood the angst of those seeking to succeed in the academic world, where the stakes are high, and competition is tough. Mostly, the setting reminded me of my college years, living in Pennsylvania, surrounded by all that wonderful history. Oh, I miss that, even after all these years. 

Rating: 3/6 for a sequel to a novel that had just too darn much time in between. It made it tough to remember the important bits from Deliverance Dane that trickled into Temperance Hobbs. However, the story did kick in towards the end, and I loved the rich history of it all, along with the strong characters. Magic, history, secrets and gifts passed down through generations are all elements that drive this tale to a satisfying conclusion.

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 


  1. I loved college life and like you considered getting an advanced degree, I would have chosen Art History. I did get a Masters in Library Science but teaching in a college which I did not do appealed to me so that aspect of this book is of interest.

    1. I absolutely loved being a college student. I also have a Master's In Library Science! But it came 20 years after my bachelor's in history. The politics of academia are a turn off for me, so I don't think that would have been my path with advanced history degrees. Not sure where I would have landed!