Edinburgh, January 1732: It’s Lady Grange’s funeral. Her death is a shock: still young, she’d shown no signs of ill health. But Rachel is, in fact, alive. She’s been brutally kidnapped by the man who has falsified her death – her husband of 25 years, a pillar of society with whom she has raised a family. Her punishment, perhaps, for railing against his infidelity – or for uncovering evidence of his treasonable plottings against the government. Whether to conceal his Jacobite leanings or simply to `replace’ a wife with a long-time mistress, Lord Grange banishes Rachel to the remote Hebridean Monach Isles, until she’s removed again to distant St Kilda, far into the Atlantic – to an isolated life of primitive conditions, with no shared language – somewhere she can never be found. This is the incredible and gripping story of a woman who has until now been remembered mostly by her husband’s unflattering account. Sue Lawrence reconstructs a remarkable tale of how the real Lady Grange may have coped with such a dramatic fate, with courage and grace.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Lady Grange was an actual historical figure, and what happened to her is a matter of record. Nothing is known from Lady Grange’s point of view. This fictional story is an interpretation of, what her feelings may have been, and how those closest to her perceived her, and what happened to her.
The position of women in the eighteenth century is explored. Women’s rights were non-existent and they were effectively invisible. History reports Lady Grange as unbalanced, alcoholic and violent. The story doesn’t shy away from this but does put it into a believable perspective. Importantly, it attempts to switch the emphasis onto the actions of her husband, his abuse of her and his power.
The story is character-driven and told from key points of view. The strength of Lady Grange comes across in this story, and her willingness to share skills with the people she is left with, even with language barriers. The story focuses on a little known historical event, from a human point of view and delivers a great story with well researched historic detail and vibrant characters.
As well as writing popular historical thrillers, including Down to the Sea, Sue Lawrence is a leading cookery writer. After winning BBC’s MasterChef in 1991, she became a regular contributor to the Sunday Times, Scotland on Sunday and other leading magazines. Raised in Dundee, she now lives in Edinburgh. She has won two Guild of Food Writers Awards.