THE WILTED ROSE BOOK CLUB: A Secret History of Witches Discussion #2

Welcome to The Wilted Rose Book Club! A Secret History of Witches Discussion #2 is here! As a reminder, this discussion covers The book of Irène and The Book of Morwen. Before sharing my thoughts, I have a few questions for you.

1- How would you define Irène and Morwen’s personalities?

2 – On page 346, Irène tells Morwen, “Your father, like most men, is terrified of a woman who doesn’t fit his ideal of womanhood because he doesn’t know how to control her. You need to remember that any frightened man is a dangerous one.” By stating this, Irène repeats what her mother Ursule had told her before. What is your thought about this statement? Do you think it was true, considering the times the story took place, and if so, do you think it can still be applied to today’s reality?

3 – This is a feminist novel that reflects the injustices that women were subjected to. It’s a story about women and their legacy and their right to profess their faith in Witchcraft. As much as I like the feminist theme in any witch’s novel, let’s not forget that even men could be witches and many of them were condemned as well during the Witchcraft persecution. So, religious persecutions didn’t spare anyone, men and women were equal in one thing at least. Do you think that witches are somehow still persecuted these days?

4 – How different do you see the father-daughter relationship between Sebastien and Irène and Jago and Morwen?

5 – How do you feel about the relationship that Ursule and Irene have?

Use the “LEAVE A REPLAY ” field to share your thoughts!

My Thoughts

I’m loving this book, so far. There’s a melancholic thread that leads through the narrative, and in this part of the book it got me particularly emotional. I find Irene to be so selfish and cruel, making me so upset because I can’t imagine a daughter to be so heartless and cold. In the beginning, she just looked like a rebel girl and I kinda liked that, but then she turned into a monster without emotions or feelings. Then, we have her daughter Morwen, an emotionally intelligent young lady who has been yes rebel, but also mature and compassionate, giving to her mother a good example of what love is.

Men in the past had more power over women than today, however, this novel is an example of how women, above all the ones belonging to the upper class, were able to exert influence on the society in subtle ways. Modern men have more respect toward women, but sometimes women are still killed by men who feel abandoned, men who believe that women are their property. So answering the question, yes, as a general rule “Any frightened man is a dangerous one.”

In some parts of the world, witches are still seen as evil and with prejudice. As a witch, you still have to be careful, you can’t come out of the broom closet so easily, even in the United States. Nowadays, it’s much better, no doubt about it, but the past is not so past.

The male characters of Sebastien and Jago, respectively the fathers of Irène and Morwen are both kind men but they have different lives. Sebastien is a musician who travels the country looking for places where to play. And this brought Irene to be resentful because she wanted to be by her father’s side, and travel with him. Then, there’s Jago, who is a trustworthy presence in Morwen’s life. It seems that what Irene wasn’t able to obtain from her father, Morwen was. She had Jago always by her side every time she needed him till the end.

There are family patterns that tend to repeat themselves until we break them and I think that here, this is what happened. Starting from Nanette, we have two generations of absent fathers, finally, Morwen unconsciously breaks this pattern. Jago is the father that every child would want, a gentle presence, not intrusive, a wise man, a good listener who has no prejudice and respects every living thing. Sebastien is a kind man, but he’s absent and has no power over his daughter because he’s never there and negatively influences Irene’s personality.

I feel bad when I think about the relationship that Ursule and Irene had. Ursule was a wise woman and she had always been patient toward her daughter. She had accepted her the way she was. As a single mother, I know how hard it can be to raise a daughter all by yourself, and seeing how ungrateful Irene was, made me upset. On page 199, Ursule quotes: “Yes. Shockingly selfish. But I suppose a child conceived selfishly is destined to be selfish herself.” She was trying to justify her daughter’s behavior, she was trying to find a reason for her behavior. But I feel like saying: “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”

Discussion #3: we’ll be focusing on The Book of Veronica! Suggested dates: February 20th-February 29th.

2 thoughts on “THE WILTED ROSE BOOK CLUB: A Secret History of Witches Discussion #2

  1. Irene and Morwen have extremely different personalities and yet they both have some things in common. One of those things they have in common is that they both are not “happy” with where they come from even if it is for different reasons. While Irene despises the fact that she is poor and thinks the only thing that will bring her happiness is material possession, Morwen feels like all the material stuff that she has is unnecessary and she wished she had more hands on experiences on labor instead of always having somebody doing something for her at all times. The difference however, is that Irene is extremely ungrateful towards her mother and what she has provided for her while Morwen is grateful to have what she has even if she wishes it could be different. Personally, Irene is my least favorite character so far. Even though she was able to have what she has ever wanted she was still mean towards Ursule and Morwen, especially when she tells her that she should have killed her the moment she was born.

    Once again the book portrays perfectly the issues that women have and still endure on the hands of men. Men have always felt very entitled to power and they always been in constant competition among them let alone if they feared a woman had power. It is true that men were also persecuted by religious individuals but women still had it worse especially since the word “witch” is still used today as a derogatory term towards women while it is not used for men as much.

    The relationship between Irene and Sebastien is the only thing that makes me feel bad about Irene. She truly cared about him and she had always hoped to have a “real” family and I think once she realized that it was never a possibility she decided she needed to change her life (it still does not justifies how she treated her mother and daughter). Jago and Morwen’s story is totally different. For many years Morwen did not know that Jago was her real father and I think it was a great plot because it shows a genuine relationship between Morwen and Jago; especially when they decide to flee for London and he helps her out because of the connection they had established during those years.

    Ursule has shown to be a great character and I think she has a lot of empathy towards people. She understood that Irene wanted a better life and when they encountered again many years later, she did not seem to hold any grudges towards her; yes, she was upset that Irene took the crystal ball with her but she did not have the same hate that Irene has for her or anybody else really. It was interesting to see that the author decided to develop Irene’s character in such a negative way considering the family line of strong and independent women that she came from. As explained before, Irene has to be one of the worse characters so far and you would think that she would have shown some grace towards Ursule and her daughter even after she got what she wanted, but she chose not to.

  2. bibliothecaveneficae says:

    Your comment is so spot-on!
    I found Irene to be my least favorite character too.
    Jago is such a kind soul, a constant paternal presence for Morwen, while Sebastien was yes kind, but absent.
    It’s a good observation when you say that witch is used for women only, and it’s sadly true.
    Ursule and her mother Nanette are great characters. In these two women, the strong feminine essence comes out.

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