by Ellen Herrick
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (September 1, 2015)
The Sparrow Sisters are as tightly woven into the New England seaside town of Granite Point as the wild sweet peas that climb the stone walls along the harbor. Sorrel, Nettie, and Patience are as colorful as the beach plums on the dunes and as mysterious as the fog that rolls into town at dusk.
When a new doctor settles into Granite Point, he brings with him a mystery so compelling that town healer Patience is drawn to love him even as she struggles to mend him. But when Patience Sparrow's herbs and tinctures are believed to be implicated in a local tragedy, Granite Point is consumed by a long-buried fear—and its three-hundred-year-old history resurfaces as a modern-day witch hunt threatens. The plants and flowers, fruit trees, and high hedges begin to wither and die, and the entire town begins to fail; fishermen return to the harbor empty-handed, and blight descends on the old elms that line the lanes.
It seems as if Patience and her town are lost until the women of Granite Point band together to save the Sparrows. As they gather, drawing strength from each other, will they be able to turn the tide and return life to Granite Point?
“She knew that sometimes Patience’s rich interior life, a thing of bright colors, strong scents, and a good deal of swearing, burst forth. The smells that followed her were the most noticeable, and even the town had learned to interpret at least some of the scents that wrapped around the youngest sister.”
“Matty was the only one Patience shared her secrets with. He listened with rapt attention as if the names themselves held power. As Patience listed the various ailments her plants could help, Matty almost wished he had rheumatism that called for bladderwrack or high blood pressure to be cured by skullcap… Matty thought maybe he could learn to be like Patience, to save someone the way she did. He was sure that if he could, people wouldn’t look away every time they saw him.”
“For her part, Patience felt as if she were holding a soap bubble in her hand. She glided through her day intent on keeping this shiny, temporary, beautiful, perfect thing intact. This in itself was unusual. Patience was adept at snatching misery from the tender jaws of joy.”
“Simon knew that it didn’t matter who was telling the truth, just who told it best.”
“I hate to think what would have happened to be without you. You are the only thing I have ever wanted to keep.”
Before I signed on to read The Sparrow Sisters I had checked Goodreads and noticed the reviews were mixed, people either loved it or hated it. I have no complaints as I adored it from the beginning. The written words sparkled, they were more than special, chosen well and smartly written. Like her Sparrow sister character of Patience, Ms. Herrick does indeed have magic, as well as considerable talent and finesse. The writing was crisp, insightful, and keenly observant with an edge of humor. The story was luxuriously detailed, unique, and unfailingly interesting. Ms. Herrick’s characters were as quirky and eccentrically individual as most small town dwellers are. I was transported to that small haven and soon lost myself in the story. I was thrilled when Patience and Henry found their rhythm, and was crushed when they argued. Then I was devastated when something horrible happened and Patience was accused of something heinous, and the small-town people showed their small-mindedness, and became just plain rotten. I will admit to being more than petty enough to enjoy how that bended back on them, as once Patience lost her footing, the town began to fail; birds stop singing, crops and plants died, the weather was frightfully weird, animals acted oddly, livelihoods dried up, and people were angry and snappish to each other. Like the witch hunts of a previous time, all kinds of nonsense circulated and I was afraid things were not going to end well for Patience, Henry, or the town. Thankfully, after a touching revelation that squeezed my heart, they are able to reclaim their smiles and we were all able to breathe deeply again. Sigh.