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.
When I was offered a review copy of Accidents of Providence by Stacia M. Brown earlier this year, I thought it sounded like an interesting read. The premise certainly is interesting in and of itself, but that alone wasn’t what made me want to read it. In today’s world, issues impacting women’s reproductive health are very much front and center. President Obama’s plan to require prescription coverage of birth control has been a huge topic this year, especially as it relates to religious institutions. Women fighting for access to affordable birth control maligned, even to the point of being called sluts or worse in the public media. Then last week, in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the governor signed into law a bill that will require all women seeking an abortion to undergo an abdominal ultrasound. Again, lawmakers and politicians are trying to use shame as a means of controlling women.
As these stories have unfolded, I could see just how much Accidents of Providence would make an excellent book to read with a group. I don’t belong to a physical book club and I would love to have someone to read this book with me. I have a feeling I’ll have much to say both about the story told within the book and how it relates to the current political climate. Won’t you join me for a read-a-long?
Who? You, I hope!
What? A group discussion about Accidents of Providence.
Why? Because sometimes it can feel lonely to read a book that you know will raise many thoughts and feelings. You feel like you just have to discuss it with someone who has shared the same experience.
When? Thursday, April 19th.
Where? Right here at Literate Housewife
How? Simply read the book on or before April 19th. Then, come back and share your thoughts throught what I hope will be a lively discussion in comments.
If you are planning on joining me, I would love it if you would fill out the following form. I’d be happy to send a reminder as the date draws near and let you know when the discussion post has been published.