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The Witching Hill
A B O U T T H E B O O K
Set in seventeenth-century Maryland, THE VANISHING POINT is a novel of dark suspense, love, and betrayal featuring two star-crossed sisters, one lost and the other searching.
In the tradition of Philippa Gregory's smart, transporting fiction comes this tale of two independent, spirited sisters. Bright and inquisitive, Hannah Powers was raised by a father who treated her as if she were his son. While her beautiful and reckless sister, May, pushes the limits of propriety in their small English town, Hannah harbors her own secret: their
father has trained her in the physician's art, an education forbidden to women. But Hannah's secret serves her well when she journeys to colonial Maryland to reunite with May, who has been married off to a distant cousin after her sexual misadventures ruined her marriage prospects in England.
As Hannah searches for May, who has disappeared, she finds herself falling in love with her brother-in-law, even as she struggles to believe his claim that her sister died in childbirth. Alone in a wild, uncultivated land where the old rules no longer apply, Hannah is freed from the constraints of the society that judged both her and May as dangerous -- too smart, too fearless, and too hungry for life. But Hannah is also plagued by doubt, as her quest for answers to May's fate grows ever more disturbing and tangled.
THE VANISHING POINT is a marvelously assured period piece. Sharratt's ten years of research on everything from seventeeth-century pharmacology to pioneer cooking are evident on each page. In this gripping, evocative novel, rich in texture and authenticity, Sharratt brings to vivid life a distant world that feels as immediate and relevant as our own.
The Vanishing Point will be published as a Mariner Original in June, 2006, and has sold to Editorial Suma de Letras (World Spanish rights), btb Verlag (German translation rights), and Objetiva (Brazilian/Portugese language rights)
Hunting for cleaning rags, she went to the chest of drawers and opened each drawer in turn. She found a drawer of mens stockings and underlinen. In the very top drawer there were rolled up maps of the Bay and surrounding plantations, but nothing that could have belonged to her sister. Not even a handkerchief. What had become of her beautiful wedding dress? Her green cloak?
But where could Mays trunk be? It was too large an object to hide, too heavy a thing to be easily stolen. An impulse overtook her. Crouching down, she looked under the bed. Though the bed was high, there was not enough space to conceal a trunk. But some object was stored there. Her fingers grabbed the edge and slowly pulled it out into the daylight. When she saw what it was, she cried even harder than she had at Mays grave.
The cradle was veiled in cobwebs, stuffed with stained rags. Though it was built of sturdy planks, one of the sidewalls was loose. A crack ran down the headboard. Hannah upended the cradle, dumping out the rags. The cradle was made of birch. Hannah held the cradle like an infant. Setting it down again, she rocked it gently. She ran her finger up and down the crack that could be sanded smooth or varnished but never mended.