The story begins at a cemetery outside a church in Clinton, Connecticut. A young woman named Meg Bailey observes Lawrence Gray, an older gentleman with a cane, struggles to reach a gravesite. The grave bears testament to the fact that he visits every day- it is covered in roses.
As Meg asks around to determine the source of Lawrence’s devotion, a fellow church goers tells her that essentially Lawrence is doing penance because he feels responsible for his wife’s death. The church goer tells Lawrence’s story over a cup of afternoon tea…
The story begins in 1895. William and Lawrence Gray (father and son) were traveling through New England looking for employment after William sold his farm. William decides to look up his old (affluent) school chum, Philip Reed. Philip readily agrees to hire the pair and welcomes the duo into his house like family. Philip has a daughter, Emily. Right away we see that Emily and Lawrence take to each other. Emily feels Lawrence is the only person with whom she can talk. Ah, yes. Enter the conflict.
The pair are clearly from opposite sides of the track. Back in the Victorian times, young ladies weren’t necessarily allowed to marry the man they loved, not unless they fell in love with a man of great fortune. Generally, that’s whom their parents would have wished them to marry. Anyway, the pair begin to fall in love, but they are discovered as we suspected that they would be.
The pair find themselves victims of forces that they cannot control. Lawrence and his father find their station at the Reed’s reduced to servants. Emily is forced into a relationship with a man that she does not like. She’s sent to meet the man’s family. Surprisingly, Lawrence is invite to go along as an artist to paint Emily’s intended family.
I won’t tell you more of the story, but I will say that the pair go through a lot before they end up together. Even when they end up together, their lives are not smooth. Ah! Where are the men like Lawrence today? What an upright, courteous, and honorable man. I tell you, they don’t make them like that any more!!
I really enjoyed this book. I know this will surprise those of you who have been around my blog for a while, especially those who saw my Valentine’s Day post. I’m not the most romantic person in the world. But this was an excellent read. In fact I saw down and read it in an evening. What I really liked about this book was the authenticity. The author mentions on the back of her book that she has an affinity with the Victorian Age. It came through loud and clear in the book. For example, the author mentions the book The Mystery of Love Courtship and Marriage Explained. This book does exist. It was written by Henry J. Wehman and published in 1890 by the Wehman brothers. The book offered advice and lessons to help men and women succeed in love. I ran an internet search and found out that little tid bit. I’m going to have to hit up some used bookstores to see if I can’t get my hands on a copy of this book. I’m familiar with a similar book called The Language of Flowers, which taught men and women to communicate by flower arrangements. No I’m not kidding. The sexes were restricted in talking with each other, so they thought up some pretty ingenious ways of communicating.
You readers are in luck. Remember the blog party? Well Jody R. LaGreca will be paying a visit. She has written an interesting article on Victorian flirtation. So all you romantic make sure you come back for a visit.
Since you are here, I’ll like to remind you that the Blog Party starts on The Bluestocking Guide on March 20,2009 at midnight sharp. The party lasts a week. I’ve having 14 authors visit that week, and I believe there will be 9 book raffles, plus I will have a contest or two. Don’t forget!!!