BLOOD RED ROSES by Margaret Lawrence


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 A second chapter in the anguished history of Hannah Trevor (Hearts and Bones, 1996), a healer-midwife of Rufford, Maine, in the years after the Revolutionary War. Long after he fled to Canada, Hannah's husband James was declared dead; ten months later, mute, now-eight-year-old Jennet was born, having been fathered by Major Daniel Josselyn, Hannah's true love. Millowner Henry Markham, Hannah's uncle, and his wife have sheltered mother and daughter at Two Mills Farm, but now the Courts have threatened to take Jennet away and sell her as an indentured servant. One way out for Hannah would be to marry Reverend Matthew Gwynn, newly arrived in town with his sister Merriam. The preacher, it soon transpires, has heavy sins of his own, and Merriam a cloudy past and darker future. Meanwhile, Daniel, prosperous with timberlands and farms, continues to live in the Grange manor with his sickly English wife Charlotte. He's visited there one night by a sinister man calling himself Reuben Stark. Soon after, in the midst of the Midsummer Fair, Stark is murdered, and, later, the woman and children he lived with deep in the woods are found axed to death. Stark, it appears, was James Trevor, come back to life and back to Rufford. There's more--much more--as bands of desperate men, ruffians among them, fight off officials and tax-collectors; as Hannah flees from cruel Sheriff Marcus Tapp, loses Jennet and finds her again; and as Daniel is attacked by the killer of Trevor's illicit family. Peace is a long way off, but the major characters eventually achieve a measure of it. With enough material for a dozen novels, all of it couched in prose that's sometimes lyrical but often artificial and precious: a tumultuous, chaotic story that may delight historical-mystery fans but is unlikely to create new ones. (First printing of 35,000)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-380-97352-9
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1997


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