‘Door Knocking’ Short Story

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Door Knocking

It’s a bright, breezy Saturday morning and I’m doing light housework when I hear a knock on the front door.  On the weekend nobody knocks at the front door at this time of day.  Nobody except salespeople touting a product, charity or religion.  I go to the window and look down at the doorstep, which doesn’t have a porch covering, and I see two people.  A fair-haired woman who is thumbing through an iPad and a man in a jaunty hat.  The window is open so I lean out, say a loud hello and they look up.  Predictably, they respond with surprise, the man uttering the usual “A voice from above” and I give a weak smile.  The woman swallows and clears her throat.  She launches straight into her patter which goes something like this “We are currently in your neighbourhood discussing death and dying and what this means to families, your family…etc, death cropping up several times…and what are your thoughts on this subject?”  My first reaction is annoyance, she hasn’t said who she represents.  The invisible signs are as obvious as the outward message.  My second reaction is one of astonishment.  Do they really expect me to talk over such a matter with them, total strangers, door-knocking my street, making dogs bark, trying to look deep and meaningful on a topic which is universally devastating no matter what the circumstances?  My third and final reaction is to look her in the eyes and say “I’m sorry, I do not wish to participate.”  She smiles, he smiles, I offer them a polite good-bye and they wish me a happy weekend.  As I’m drawing back, I catch a momentary look of relief on the woman’s face.  Gretchen Bernet-Ward

 

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‘The Witch Finder’s Sister’ by Beth Underdown

A witch-finder compiles his list … To me, prologues are an unnecessary extension of the backcover blurb and I often don’t read them.  Resistance is futile when it comes to Beth Underdown’s deep dark 17th century historical novel based on the real witch-finder Matthew Hopkins.

When I read the prologue to The Witch Finder’s Sister I tried not to become smitten with the words, tried not to be intrigued by the premise nor overcome with a desire to read what sister Alice has to say, but I am already into Chapter 8 even though historical fiction is not my preferred genre.

As absorbing as I’m finding this tale, this is not a proper book review and “no correspondence will be entered into”.  But I will say Chapter 1 is claustrophobic and tension-filled, a classic example of how thoughts become words to become other people’s thoughts.  There is an epilogue under the guise of Author’s Note which I can live without reading.  If you wish to pursue the Prologue & Epilogue debate, check out  WordPress Blogger theryanlanz A Writer’s Path

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I will leave the review to Suzi Feay of esteemed The Guardian newspaper:

The Witch Finder’s Sister by Beth Underdown review – puritan or serial killer?
The Guardian Review of The Witch Finder’s Sister by Beth Underdown

 

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Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Here is the prologue to The Witch Finder’s Sister by Beth Underdown––
“1645, and the Civil War in England has begun its fourth year.  It is a war about God, and how best we should worship Him.  It is a war about who should govern, and why; whether the Parliament should rule, or whether the ousted King.  It is a war of thoughts, of words printed or hurled in anger: but this is also a war of guns.  Last year, at Marston Moor, more than four thousand men were killed.  Before this, women have seldom been hanged for witchcraft – one or two, every five years, or ten.  Eight were sentenced in Pendle, thirty years ago, when the land still knew peace.  But now this country is falling apart at the seams.  Now, all England is looking the other way: so there is nothing to stop Matthew Hopkins stepping forward.  Starting to make his list of names.”