Rated of 5
by Shirley S. (Batavia, IL) Accidents of Providence
A great 17th century history lesson of both customs and religion feed by a wonderful, descriptive writing style. The protagonist a strange but endearing character. One might guess the ending from the beginning but the journey is worth the taking. Never overly written, the narrative introduces a myriad of hamlet dwellers that become as endearing as the story.
Rated of 5
by Diane S. (Batavia, IL) Accidents of Providence by Stacia Brown
It is the middle of the 1600's, and in Cromwell's Puritan England a law has been passed to prevent the Destroying and murdering of the children of unmarried woman. I have long been fascinated with the Puritans, their strange relationship with God, where everything pleasurable is a considered a sin, and woman on the fringes are looked on with suspicion. The character of Rachel, is one that will stay with me for a long time, she is so multifaceted and yet so human. It is not until the very end that we find out what happened to her child, among many twists and turns, an investigation and a trial. This book is very well researched, the writing very emotional and the politics of the day, the movement of the Levelers, adding much to the story line. Rachel's plight will touch the other characters in the book, changing many, in good and bad ways. As the investigator Bartwain comments while observing Rachel's trial, "We have decapitated our king and disbanded our House of Lords, and now there is no one left to restore reason and line and order." Life was extremely hard for all, but woman were so harshly judged and often had no recourse.
Rated of 5
by Catherine M. (Grand Forks, ND) Accidents of Providence
Stacia Brown’s "Accidents of Providence" follows two significant storylines. The main narrative details the life of Rachel Lockyer, an unmarried glove maker who finds herself pregnant at a time in history when all women were marginalized and those unmarried and pregnant were further disdained by society and punished harshly for their unfortunate circumstances.
Another storyline, which is intertwined with Lockyer’s, is that of the Levellers, a socialist political group advocating legal equality (not necessarily for women, though) and religious tolerance. William Walwin, the father of Rachel’s unborn baby, is actively, albeit hesitantly at times, involved with this group.
The story moves through Rachel’s pregnancy, her relationship with William Walwin, the investigation of the events surrounding her baby’s death, her trial for violating “An Act to Prevent the Destroying and Murdering of Bastard Children", and the decline of the Leveller’s influence in 17th century England.
Overall, this is an absorbing book; however, I could see no reason for Rachel to be in love with William Walwin, an insipid and uninspiring character at best.
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. (Pinson, AL) Wonderful Novel
Stacia Brown has written a great first novel. I stayed up until 2 in the morning to finish this book. It is that good. I am big historical fiction reader, but was not aware of the law of 1624 targeting unwed mothers who concealed the death of their illegitimate babies making the mothers guilty of murder. The story was so interesting and I will not forget Brown's character, Rachel Lockyer for a long time.
Rated of 5
by Carol N. (Indian Springs VIllage, AL) Accidents of Providence
This books was a quick read for me, however, I felt it lacked something in the telling of the story. It was obvious that the author did a great deal of research into the time period and her details were very vivid. I thought the main characters lacked some development and never did get that interested in their story. I would have rather seen some development of the lives of the main characters rather than some of the graphic descriptions she did have of animal treatment.
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