cover image The Burning Bride

The Burning Bride

Margaret Lawrence, Margaret Laurence. William Morrow & Company, $23 (400pp) ISBN 978-0-380-97620-1

Pregnant women and jealous men populate the landscape of Lawrence's third heavily atmospheric Revolutionary War story (after Blood Red Roses and Hearts and Bones) featuring Maine midwife Hannah Trevor, who once again contends with authority, both individual and institutional, to save her own life and the lives of those she loves. During the annual military muster, the body of ""barber-surgeon"" Samuel Clinch is found shot in the head and the chest and with his feet burned. Hannah, four months pregnant with her lover Daniel's child, becomes a suspect because she had publicly derided Clinch's methods of childbirthing. She's let off the hook when another scapegoat, Clinch's black servant, is blamed for the killing. When Master Royallton-Smith of the General Court is shot twice--like Clinch--militiamen are present, and Daniel, as their commander, is held responsible. Hannah manages to marry Daniel before he is taken away. Then, to secure the serene family life that she desires, she sets about to discover who killed the two prominent men. But in the postwar milieu of the 1780s, determining who had cause to murder Clinch and Royallton-Smith yields a tangled web of intrigue. In the middle of the knotted case are three pregnant weavers whose men seek retaliation for the women's abuse at the hands of wealthy, amoral men. Rife with period detail and heavy with references to repressed emotion and sexuality, this third historical saga nearly buries its thin thread of mystery in the oppressive tale of postwar machinations and tortured personal intentions. (Oct.)