BLURB: “Jack St.Bride was once a beloved teacher at a private girl’s school – until a student’s crush sparked a powder keg of accusation and robbed him of his career and reputation. After a devastatingly public ordeal that left him with an eight-month jail sentence and no job, Jack resolves to pick up the pieces of his life. He takes a job washing dishes at Addie Peabody’s diner in the quiet New England village of Salem Falls and slowly starts to form a relationship with her. But a quartet of teenage girls harbours dark secrets – and they maliciously target Jack with a shattering allegation. Now, at the centre of a modern-day witch hunt, Jack is forced once again to proclaim his innocence; to a town searching for answers, to a justice system where truth becomes a slippery concept written in shades of grey, and to the women who has come to love him”
REVIEW: This book may be one of my favourite Picoult novels yet, beaten only by the brilliant Nineteen Minutes, which I have previously reviewed on this blog. The story of Jack St. Bride is one full of sacrifice and fear, and instantly grips the reader from the moment the book is opened. As Jack falls in love with Addie, a woman traumatised after a childhood rape and the later death of her young daughter, his world is turned upside down by the accusations of a teenage girl named Gillian Duncan. Daughter of the richest man in town, Gillian is both beautiful and accustomed to getting what she wants – and what she wants is Jack. When he turns her down and the truth about his past conviction emerges, Gillian uses her talent for witchcraft, as well as the three other members of her coven – Meg, Chelsea and Whitney – to create a tangled web of lies that makes Jack the target of the entire community within Salem Falls. The book flashes between past and present, giving us a glimpse of Jack’s earlier life and his relationship with the girl he was falsely accused of raping, Catherine Marsh. Much like in ‘Sing you Home’, this book presents much less of conflict for the reader than other Picoult works; the reader knows of Jack’s innocence and guesses at Gillian’s manipulative actions and therefore supports Jack all the way through the book. In this sense, I found it a little less enjoyable as it did not quite present the moral dilemma that I am so used to and fond of in Picoult’s works. However, the addition of witchcraft into the book made for an absolutely fascinating narrative, and gave it an air of spirituality that was both unnerving and entertaining. I also thoroughly enjoyed seeing the relationship between Jack and Addie develop, and learning about the girls in Gillian’s coven also added extra depth and interest to the novel. Once again, I would highly recommend this book.