Blood Red Roses Paperback – 8 Jan 1999
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Hanna Trevor, midwife in Rufford Maine has believed her husband to be dead for months when a series of murders occurs in her town in the midsts of summer. Her supposedly dead husbands' body, along with that of his new wife and children, is found the night of the harvest festival. Hanna is immediately a suspect, as a footprint left in blood shows the killer to be female.
Of course Hanna didn't do it. We know this because some chapters in this book, as in the previous, are devoted to the murderer's perspective. (This is a great writing style for mystery books.) The story in this book is fascinating and augmented by Hannah being called before an orphan master's court to prove she can provide for her child, who is also the illegitimate daughter of her lover Daniel (note: the love story in this book is very sweet and tender.)
I liked this book a lot and would recommend it highly. Be warned though, like the first book in this series it is quite dark. Insane people seem to crop frequently in these books and the way they're insanity is described is both horrifying and very accurate. In fact, I've never seen mental distress portrayed so well in writing before.
I rank this a sold 4.5 stars.
Lawrence, Margaret, (Margaret K.). Reading time 13 hours, 11 minutes.
Read by Annie Wauters. A production of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress.
Subjects: Mystery and Detective Stories
Series: Hannah Trevor mysteries volume: 2
Description: Maine, 1786. In this sequel to Hearts and Bones (RC 43725), midwife Hannah Trevor's young daughter, Jennet, is being forcibly taken from her to become an indentured servant. Political rebellion is brewing, and violence is spreading when a family found murdered in the woods is identified as Hannah's Tory husband and dependents. Hannah soon becomes the primary suspect. Some violence.
To be honest, I tend to shy away from anything that is classified as “literary”, because, in my view, good literature is far, far more than good writing, and all too often “literary” novels in any genre are pretentious, self-conscious, and are more concerned with how a story is told than with the story itself. So, I began this historical mystery with more than a little trepidation, and found that, yes, it was a little self-conscious, and yes, sometimes the symbolism and literary devices obscured the story being told, but that story, and most of the characters in it, were so powerful that they more than overcame these issues.
This book tells, essentially, 3 stories that are braided very nicely into 1, and none of them could exist without the others. First, there is the mystery and its resolution, and that is handled with subtlety and mastery. The 2nd story involves a very difficult period for the very new United States, and a revolution which could have, and possibly nearly did, end our Republic before it got on to its feet. The 3rd story involves a group of characters, but especially Hannah, a midwife, her deaf daughter, and both her husband and the man she loves. All the stories are so well intermeshed they can’t and shouldn’t be, separated, and the characters are so vividly drawn that those characters make themselves at home in the mind and heart of the reader. True, there are a few characters who are rather too symbolic to be credible, but, fortunately, they have fairly minor parts in the story, so I could consider them embellishments.
What does stand out about this book, though, is the absolutely glorious writing. Don’t get me wrong: I dearly love words, and the ways in which they can be used, but making lovely words just for the sake of making lovely sentences and paragraphs leaves me cold. Here, though, the writing winds around and through the story and supports it, giving it life, breadth and depth, without every trying to overshadow it.
This is the kind of writing that is so richly textured that it engages all the senses. Sometimes it is so beautiful that I had to stop my player, just to allow my mind to re-listen to a phrase and experience it again. Each feature of the story, each object of person in the book is touched and made more than 3 dimensional. Even the weather is a living, breathing, and possibly sentient, character. (no, not really, but reading the descriptions of some storms and fogs makes it feel sentient).
This was an absolutely enthralling, entirely satisfying reading experience, and this is a book which will haunt my memory and pluck my heartstrings for a very long time, I think.
In this second book Hannah discovers the fate of the husband she has long thought dead. This brings her into the eye of the storm in Rufford, and the simmering animosities of the community are directed at her. There are also developments in the life of her deaf and mute daughter Jennet, and in her passion for Ralph Josselin, a married landowner. For anyone who has ever loved deeply this book is just riveting since you can feel Hannah's bottled-up feelings bursting from every page. A taut, satisfying, and mystifying sequel.
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