Book Rating: ★★★★★ (4.75 / 5 stars)
Edward Barrington disappeared without a trace in 1888. With him, he left a labyrinth of mysteries: what happened to him? Why did he leave behind his wife? And how did his disappearance impact his poetry? These questions continue to haunt a select few over the course of a century, including Archie Hargraves…as well as Ellie Cannon, 130 years later. With no evidence as to what happened to Edward Barrington, Ellie dives into the mystery. Can she finally solve the mystery of Barrington’s disappearance? Or will she end up just as lost as his body?
I’ll be honest, reading this book…I thought it was going to be a 4 star book. It was good, well written, with embedded mystery. Some parts were slow, or I would put the book down and not pick it up again for a few days (at no one’s fault but my own). But then I reached that ending…wow! I did not expect that in the slightest.
Widow’s Lace is a literary portrait of how one event can link multiple people together, similar to a spider web…or lace. The loss the characters suffered, followed by the connections they have over more than a century, shows the true impact that one moment can have. Grief can transcend decades, and not only does this story uncover the mystery behind Edward Barrington’s body, but takes time to understand the grief of the widow as well. All of these together create a well rounded story that transports the reader into each time period. Not every author is successful in investigating this, so this in itself is phenomenal.
Personally, I’m taking off 0.25 stars more so because of how long it took me to read, and because I feel like there was just a tiny bit missing at the end. Perhaps a longer internal reflection? Or something else? I’m not entirely sure. I was so enamored by the ending (which I won’t give away here), that I couldn’t pinpoint it. I just knew it was missing something.
Nevertheless, Widow’s Lace is a hidden gem that historical fiction, and perhaps even mystery, lovers will adore. If you want to read a story with a shocking twist at the end, I encourage you to check it out. I’ll definitely be checking out more of Lelita Baldock’s work soon!
What’s it about?
A hundred year old mystery, the widow left behind, a fallen soldier, an unnamed body and a young student determined to find the truth.
In 1886 famous English poet Edward Barrington moves from Derbyshire, England to a farm on the Finniss River, in South Australia. Two years later he disappears.
25 years later Archie Hargraves abandons his fiancée Clara and travels from England to meet with Edward’s widow, Rosalind. He plans to write a biography and make a name for himself, independent from his wealthy father. Returning to England in 1914 he abandons his work to join the war in Europe. His journal of notes from Australia is never released.
Ellie Cannon, a young PhD candidate at Sydney University, is writing a thesis on one of Barrington’s last known poems, The Fall. It’s not going well. Struggling with her relationship with her mother and loss of her father, Ellie is on the brink of failure.
Then a body is found by the Finniss River, 130 years after Edward’s disappearance. Could it be the famous poet?
The discovery draws Ellie into the worlds of Edward, Archie and Clara, taking her across Australia and England in her search for the truth.
Covering life in remote South Australia, the social pressures of 1900s Britain and the historical role of women, Widow’s Lace is an historical fiction, mystery cross-over dealing with themes of obsession, fear, love, inner-secrets and regret. But also the hope that can come from despair.