Saturday, August 6, 2011

Accidents of Providence by Stacia Brown

A new voice in historical fiction rescues a woman wronged by her time and forgotten by history, whose love affair leads to her trial for murder. 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 to 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. achel 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 Lillburne 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. For fans of Fingersmith and The Dress Lodger, Accidents of Providence is absorbing historical fiction and Rachel Lockyer is a character history will never again forget.

My Review:
It was the cover that first drew me to this book and then the era. I enjoy historical fiction that takes place before the 18th century. The novel is about an unmarried young woman named Rachel Lockyear who works as a glove maker for wages and lodgings. She enters into a secret love affair with a man named William Walwyn, a married man with a rather large family. When William is imprisoned for his political views, Rachel discovers she is pregnant. Alone and facing society’s ostracism for unwed mothers, this sets off a chain of events that ultimately ends up with Rachel being charged with the murder of her child.

The story unfolds through much narrative, back-story, flashbacks, and several different points of view, revealing the truth a tidbit at a time. This mystery and the desire to understand what happened kept me reading to the end of the book although the prose was a struggle and difficult to follow. Nevertheless, it was a poignant depiction and true portrayal of how women suffered against society’s norms in the 17th century. I'm a bit ambivalent. Can't say I loved the story style or the writing style, but I loved the story and it did keeping me reading through to the end.

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