Accidents of Providence: Book summary and reviews of Accidents of Providence by Stacia Brown

Accidents of Providence

By Stacia Brown

Accidents of Providence
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2012,
    272 pages.

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Book Summary

It is 1649. King Charles has been beheaded for treason. Amid civil war, Cromwell's army is running the country. The Levellers, a small faction of agitators, are calling for rights for the people. And a new law targeting unwed mothers and lewd women presumes anyone who conceals the death of her illegitimate child is guilty of murder.

Rachel Lockyer, unmarried glove maker, and Leveller William Walwyn are locked in a secret affair. But when a child is found buried in the woods, Rachel is arrested.

So comes an investigation, public trial, and unforgettable characters: gouty investigator Thomas Bartwain, fiery Elizabeth Lilburne and her revolution-chasing husband, Huguenot glover Mary Du Gard, and others. Spinning within are Rachel and William, their remarkable love story, and the miracles that come to even the commonest lives.

Fans of Fingersmith and The Dress Lodger will love Accidents of Providence, absorbing historical fiction featuring Rachel Lockyer, a character wronged by her time and the kind of woman forgotten by history, whose love affair leads to her trial for murder.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. A romping good read that is character-driven yet intellectually provocative on issues of law, religion, and morality - historical fiction at its best." - Kirkus Reviews

"Good for historical fiction fans..." - Library Journal

"This mystery and the desire to understand what happened kept me reading... although the prose was a struggle and difficult to follow." - Historical Novel Review

"... [A] thought-provoking and romantic debut novel." - Shelf Awareness

"Intelligent, masterful, suspenseful - one of the best books I've read in years. An impressive debut novel from a hugely talented new writer, Accidents of Providence was a rare treat." - Margaret George, author of bestselling novels The Memoirs of Cleopatra, Mary, Called Magdalene, and Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles

"With this marvelous story written in searing prose, Stacia Brown brings us a deeply human, super-smart, uncommonly well-researched historical novel. Accidents of Providence tackles hypocrisy, both sexual and political, and invites us into the revolutionary taverns and chaotic courtrooms of civil-war-torn London, introducing us to the faithful and adulterous, the idealists and opportunists, of an era not so unlike our own. Don't miss it!" - Sheri Holman, author of The Dress Lodger and Sondok

"Stacia Brown's debut novel, Accidents of Providence, richly illuminates an important but little known period of history: that of the English Leveller society. Wonderfully detailed and keenly researched, it is a moving portrait of a courageous woman caught between a disastrous affair with a charismatic revolutionary and the draconian laws of the land that would put her to death because of it." - Kathleen Kent, author of The Heretic's Daughter and The Traitor's Wife

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Reader Reviews

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Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Sarah N. (Corte Madera, CA)
Captivating from the first page...
"So Mary pulled on her boots, pinned up her hair, changed her sleeping robe for a jersey skirt, and became what she'd never wanted to be: someone who got involved" (p. ix) Sometimes we all just want to be on the sidelines not getting involved. Rachel's problem all along was the right people not being involved. Rachel Lockyer, the main character, was someone I cared about and someone I hoped would have the right person stand up for her. Her love story is beautiful and sad at the some time. Although Rachel Lockyer is not a real person, my gut tells me her story is probably close to someone's real story.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Sherri A. (westbrook, ct)
Accidents of Providence
This novel was just...ok for me. I couldn't really connect with the characters and at times it felt like a fictionalized thesis...I guess I was expecting more; oh well.

Rated 4 of 5 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 3 of 5 of 5 by Marie A. (Warner, NH)
Accidents of Providence
The author does a good job in referencing history and in presenting characters--some based on real people who lived in London during the 17th Century and other fictitious characters who fit in and complement the story.
The story is woven around the Puritan assumption that a woman's sexuality was not hers to do with what she wished ergo Rachel Lockyer's dilemma and its effects on members of her community.
If a book group were to select ACCIDENTS OF PROVIDENCE as a choice, the title could act as a springboard for discussion. How interesting would that be?
Though I found the book interesting in its topic, I did not find it remarkable in its presentation.

Rated 2 of 5 of 5 by Martha L. (Warner, NH)
great idea - poor style
I asked for this book with high expectations and was really looking forward to reading it. I had finished The Dressmaker and the suggestion that this book was in a similar vein was quite intriguing .

The book while having a great story to be told and characters with all sorts of angst, did not live up to the potential it could have. The author used story elements such as flashbacks to tell the story of Rachel Lockyer and the events around her murder trial. The English history during this time of Cromwell and the difficulties was a great backdrop to tell a story. The characters seemed to be an honest reflection of the time. The problem was the prose was hard to read and the story, at times, was did not capture the imagination as it could have and should have. I finished the story but continued to be off put by the quality of the writing. I did not find the comparison between The Dressmaker and this story to be accurate.

Rated 4 of 5 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.

...21 more reader reviews

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Stacia M. Brown holds graduate degrees in religion and historical theology from Emory University. She began writing Accidents of Providence from research conducted for her dissertation on martyrs in seventeenth century England. This is her first novel. Visit her at http://staciabrown.com.

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