A Captivating Love Story and Tragedy
The year is 1649 and England is fraught with political turmoil. Different political parties fight for power and war is raging. The author renders the ambiance of London well - the stench, poverty, turmoil and chaos.
Rachel is a glove maker's assistant and finds out that she is pregnant. She has been having an affair with a married man that already has 14 children. English law states that if a woman kills her child after giving birth, she is to be put to death. After Rachel's baby is born, her boss sees her walking to a deserted area carrying a bundle and follows her. She sees Rachel burying something. The next day, her boss digs up what she finds to be an infant's grave and reports Rachel to the authorities. A trial ensues.
The book is very captivating. My only criticism is that there is too much political information in it, as though the author used her dissertation as the background for the story and added the novel's most interesting aspects - Rachel's pregnancy, her love affair, the trial - as an afterwards. Despite this, most of the book was riveting and I think it deserves a high '4'.
Rated of 5
by Penny P. (Santa barbara, Calif)
A Good Read
I enjoy reading historical novels and thoroughly enjoyed this one. I remember loving The Dress Lodger and Perfume and would put this book in the same category. The history seemed quite accurate. The political times and the belief of the Puritans were covered, as well a the place of women in that society. This is both a love story and a crime novel so I think anyone who either, would enjoy this novel. The character development was quite good and the writing was descriptive and easy to read. The book isn't very long and can be read pretty quickly making it a great vacation read.
Rated of 5
by Kathleen W. (New Brighton,, MN)
"Everyone loved a good hanging day"
Welcome to London, circa 1649. Smell the squalor of Newgate prison. Investigate the relationship between hangman and accused on the way to Tyburn hanging tree. Look over YOUR shoulder in the midst of religious intolerance in the time of Oliver Cromwell. Stacia Brown (Accidents of Providence) weaves a darn good tale involving a romance/mystery plot but most importantly, her descriptive ability is wonderfully evocative of this time in British history. After finishing reading (and wanting to take a shower?) pose to yourself the question asked of you by the author, "What is it that love requires of each of us?" My only disappointment with the book was that there was no attempt to replicate the vernacular of the 17th century British citizens in this novel. Surely this is a shame considering how admirably Brown succeeds on every other level. No matter...Read it!
Rated of 5
by Margaret O. (Bonita Springs, FL)
Accidents of Providence
The setting for the story of Rachel Lockyer and her dead child is England in the mid 17th century where life for the masses is fraught with hardship. The author provides a detailed picture and historical context that draws you into the lives of both the women of the period and the Levelers, a democratic political action group who emphasized popular sovereignty, extended suffrage, equality before the law and religious tolerance. In the course of the trial all of these themes come into focus as Rachel’s love affair is with a leader of the ‘leveling’ movement.
Stacia Brown’s book acquainted me with a period in history with which I was not familiar as I saw it through the eyes of Rachel during the course of her ordeal.
This was an informative and captivating book for me and I found the relationships among the women of special interest.
Rated of 5
by Sandra S. (Charlotte, NC)
Good, enjoyable historical.
Loved the characters. The historical setting was real and the tension grew with the pages, as is appropriate. Would definitely recommend this book to others.
Rated of 5
by Deborah M. (Chambersburug, PA)
Interesting Historical Period; Feminist Issues
Set in Oliver Cromwell's England in the year following the beheading of Charles II, this novel draws on a number of intriguing historical facts and legal cases. It opens as legal investigator Bartwain prepares an indictment against spinster Rachel Lockyer, charged under a new law that demands the execution of any woman found guilty of secretly disposing of her bastard infant, whether the child had been born alive or dead. Rachel, an apprentice glovemaker, had become entangled in a passionate affair with William Walwyn, a married Leveller and father of fourteen who pens pamphlets against the Puritan leaders and their rigid, merciless laws. There are several surprising twists in the plot (not to be revealed here), some of them based on intriguing facts that are outlined in the epilogue.
While much of the novel details the affair, the investigation, and the trial, Brown also questions the religious intolerance, misogyny, harsh prison conditions, and class divisions in Cromwell's Commonwealth, and she paints a disturbing picture of the paranoia such a society engenders. As a reader, however, I sensed that the author had perhaps taken on a theme or two too many. Still, it is worth reading for a view of a historical period not often covered in fiction and for the relationships among the female characters.
Rated of 5
by Mary S. (Bow, NH)
A good read, not a great one
Accidents of Providence by Stacia Brown tells the story of a woman in Oliver Cromwell's England who is accused of having a baby out of wedlock.
The setting of the story is very good. It is obvious Ms. Brown has done her research. The dialogue is also very good. However, some of the main character's internal dialogue gets lengthy (and doesn't add anything to the novel). As well, there are some scenes that also don't add anything to the novel. For example, the main character (a glove-maker) makes gloves for all of her gaolers on Christmas Eve, but that is the last that the reader hears about the gloves.
Overall I enjoyed this book, but I was not swept away by it.
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