Cynthia Mcarthur's Reviews > Accidents of Providence

Accidents of Providence by Stacia M. Brown
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Apr 11, 12

Read from September 20 to 30, 2011

Set in England during the interregnum, Accidents of Providence follows Rachel Lockyer, a glove maker’s apprentice accused of murdering her illegitimate child. After moving to London, Rachel and her brother Robert become acquainted with the society called the Levellers, who are unhappy that the war which beheaded their king, and should have freed the common people, seems to have stopped with Cromwell. The Levellers are considered malcontents, and in consequence their leaders are prolific pamphlet writers, trying to stir the London crowds back to their way of thinking. When Robert wants to join them, Rachel accompanies him and meets married Leveller William Walwyn, with whom she begins an affair. When Rachel’s employer, Mary Du Gard, sees her sneak into the night, she follows her and sees her bury a small bundle. Mary returns the next day to dig the bundle up and it turns out to be an infant. Was the infant still-born? Did Rachel kill the infant? Who is the father of the poor thing? So begins the investigation and trial of Rachel Lockyer for the murder of her spurious issue.

The story follows Rachel, the accused; William, her unnamed lover; Thomas Bartwain, the tired investigator who can’t look away from the story; John Lilborne, the Leveller leader who looks to turn every death into martyrdom; and John’s wife Elizabeth, Rachel’s closest friend and Leveller in her own right. All the characters grow and change because of Rachel’s plight, and the author eloquently portrays the confusion ordinary people must have felt in the days of the Protectorate, when the government and church were changing. However, I felt as though I was just thrown into the story as narrated by the author and never really got inside the heads of these complex characters, their personalities seem only skin deep. The author has beautiful phrasing, her sentences are often poetic and thought-provoking. With a little more character development, this would have been a truly engrossing novel. As this was the author’s first novel, it shines with potential and I look forward to reading her next work.
My review courtesy of the Historical Novel Society
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Reading Progress

09/26/2011 page 45
17.0% "Curse my day-job that keeps me from reading at my usual speed!"
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Cynthia Mcarthur I am going ot review this book for HNS. Sounds great, doesn't it?


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