I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Accidents of Providence by Stacia M. Brown
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on February 14, 2012
Genres: Historical Fiction
Rachel Lockyer is under investigation 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 political 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.
Rachel Lockyer, unmarried glove maker, and William Walwyn, Leveller hero, are locked in a secret affair. But while William is imprisoned in the Tower, a child is found buried in the woods and Rachel is arrested.
So comes an investigation, public trial, and a cast of extraordinary characters made up of ordinary Londoners: gouty investigator Thomas Bartwain, fiery Elizabeth Lilburne and her revolution-chasing husband, Huguenot glover Mary Du Gard, a lawyer for the prosecution hell-bent on making an example of Rachel, and others. Spinning within are Rachel and William, their remarkable love story, and the miracles that come to even the commonest lives.
Accidents of Providence is absorbing historical fiction for fans of Fingersmith and The Dress Lodger. And Rachel Lockyer, a woman wronged by her time, is a character neither history, nor we, will ever again forget.
Accidents of Providence is a historical fiction novel which tells the story of Rachel Lockyer’s arrest after she is accused of killing a newborn child that was found buried in the woods. The novel started off a little dry and the storyline wasn’t in the least bit interesting, but I suppose that should be expected with historical fiction. There was a bit of a mystery going on so that helped make it intriguing.
The investigator in charge of the case goes through deposing the witnesses involved for the first few chapters and then it delves into the ‘romance’ of Rachel and William Walwyn. This was my major problem with the book: this supposed ‘remarkable love story’ between these two was extremely lacking. William was a married man with FOURTEEN children and Rachel was an unmarried woman but other than William caring for Rachel out of simple obligation and his continued desire to sleep with her, I couldn’t see the love.
The overall writing style of the novel was very hard to read in large quantities. I found myself continuously having to take breaks from it because my brain was having trouble comprehending. The writing style is very 16th Century England and isn’t modernized like many historical fiction novels. Some of the lines were just plain strange: “Fixing her attention on the horizon of his face, she distracted herself by trying to name all the sounds creatures make when they are in trouble. She ran the noises around in her head. She wished she too could roar and whistle and screech and bleat and rattle and all those other noises a woman could not make unless she wanted the world to declare her an animal, a creature of unreason, a dreamer of false dreams.” I’m sorry… what?
By the end? That subtle ‘mystery’ that kept me reading? Well suffice it to say, it didn’t exist. The revelation of what happened to the child was exactly what was expected, and it was sad, but… I was definitely expecting more. Then the author decides to throw a curve ball that was just strange and… by the end it felt like everything had come full circle and there was absolutely no point to anything. Very disappointed.