Rated of 5
by Martha L. (Warner, NH)
murder and justice
Murder at Rosamund Gate by Susanna Calkins is a debut novel. The setting of the book is in London during the seventeenth century. The lines of class, sex and religion were well drawn. A servant was always a servant. A woman was from weaker moral and intellectual levels. A Quaker was a derogatory name for the beginning of the Friend's religious convictions. In the middle of all this is Lucy, the main character. She is a chambermaid at a house of a local magistrate. She is caught in her station and treated with some disregard as a girl servant. Lucy's friend dies and her brother William is arrested for the murder. The story continues with twists and turns, including the plague, London burning and the search for the murderer.
The book felt authentic to me with the attitudes of the upper class. The courts were a different place than today. Hearsay, no collection of evidence and story telling often ruled the day with people being punished due to their station in life and lack of understanding of the law. I found the information about the "penny accounts" or broad sheets that were printed with the stories and ballads of the murders intriguing. The idea that justice was based on such "truths" surprised me.
I did find the book interesting and was pleasantly surprised by the ending. I enjoyed the story and the information presented. The characters were interesting and represented people from that time. I found the negativity with the lack of respect for girls who were servants difficult to accept. The negativity toward any religious differences also while appropriate to the time of the novel was also difficult to accept. (Although I guess it shouldn't be based on current events.)
All in all, it was a good book.