On March 13th, in response to the laws being passed that are encroaching on women’s rights, I announced a read-a-long of Accidents of Providence by Stacia M. Brown. This novel tells the story of Rachel Lockyer, a woman being investigated for the suspected murder of her illegitimate child. Rachel had the misfortune to live in England during in 1624, when a law aptly named An Act to Prevent the Destroying and Murdering of Bastard Children was in affect. If found guilty of this crime, Rachel faced the death penalty. Several people signed up to read this book with me and I am happy to announce that the day to discuss Accidents of Providence has finally arrived!
While reading this book, I discovered Stacia M. Brown’s website, which has some great information about the book and the time period. I used the wonderful discussion guide she provide to help me round out the discussion today.
For those who have yet to read the book, both information on the author’s website and this discussion will include spoilers. Please read the questions and comments with that in mind.
Thanks so much for joining me for this read-a-long. It’s nice know that there are other people out there reading the same book I am. Use the questions below only as a guide. I’ll be providing my thoughts in the comments. Answer the ones that interest and please feel free to ask questions of your own. I really want to know what you think. Please note that I will be working today, so I might not respond as quickly as I’d like. I hope you will bear with me.
- What were your overall opinions of Accidents of Providence? What was your reading experience like? How did you feel about the author’s writing style and storytelling? What is it about the book that sticks out the most for you?
- When I first heard about this book, I wondered about this law criminalizing the murder of bastard children. Why do you think that it pertained only to bastard children and not to all newborns?
- What were your thoughts about the book’s title before you read the book? Did your impressions change after you finished it?
- Mary was an interesting character. She seemed very conflicted about having reported Rachel. She seemed satisfied with Rachel’s work for the most part. What do you think her motivations were for observing Rachel and reporting the crime? Do you think she changed as a result of what happened during the trial and after?
- While some of the strongest bonds a woman can have is with other women, there is something to be said about women being each other’s own worst enemies. Why is it that other women were so interested in Rachel and her affairs? Why were they the first to turn on her?
- Thomas Bartwain has been a criminal investigator for quite some time. At first I thought his purpose was to provide background information on Rachel and provide a look at that society’s view of women. What is it, do you think, that is different about Rachel and her case that bothers him so much that makes him feel guilty and causes him physical discomfort? Did your feelings for him change from the beginning of the story to the end?
- What are your thoughts on Rachel and William’s relationship? Was it a love affair of equals? How do they compare to Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale?
- The trial was the highlight of the book for me. What are your thoughts about all that took place?
- (Totally stealing this question from the author’s Discussion Guide) Are there parallels between the birth and death of Rachel’s child and her own “death”? If so, do you draw any significance from those parallels? What do you make of the role of miracles in this story, religiously, politically, and mythically?
- Did this book cause you to think about modern society’s view of women? Does Rachel’s story in 1624 have anything to say to women living in 2012? What can the women of today learn from her experience?
I am looking forward to your thoughts!