Accidents of Providence

By Stacia Brown
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780547490809, 272pp.)

Publication Date: February 14, 2012

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback

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The story of an unmarried tradeswoman in London during the Puritan Revolution (1649–1650) whose  passionate love affair leads to a trial for murder

About the Author

She began writing Accidents of Providence from research conducted for her dissertation on martyrs in seventeenth century England. This is her first novel.

Conversation Starters from


  1. What do we know about Rachel Lockyer? “They knew her less for who she was than for who and what she was not. She was not a matron. She was not a mother. She was not well educated. She was not much of a Christian” (p. 39). Was she any of the things others thought she wasn’t? What did Rachel believe in? By what standards did she define herself? By what sort of standards do you define yourself and others?

Praise For Accidents of Providence

"Dangerous Liaisons: A 17th century heroine for our times...[A] delightfully seditious heroine...Brown introduces a wonderful cast of supporting characters.... For all its period detail, this debut seems remarkably modern in its depiction of love and politics—proof that a historical novel can be educational and entertaining, and nothing like homework."
O, The Oprah Magazine

"A heart-poundingly vivid, intellectually provocative account. . . A romping good read that is character-driven yet intellectually provocative on issues of law, religion and morality—historical fiction at its best."
Kirkus, STARRED review

"Debut novelist Brown has woven an absorbing tale...her story reveals a rich knowledge of the era with memorable characters, sharp, period-worthy dialog, and a poignant love story...This is the best kind of historical fiction—a combination of love story and murder mystery, wtih a sprinkling of intriguing historical snippets and wonderful writing."
Library Journal, STARRED review

"Intelligent, masterful, suspenseful—one of the best books I've read in years. An impressive debut novel from a hugely talented new writer, Accidents of Providence was a rare treat."
—Margaret George, author of many works of historical fiction, including Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles

"With this marvelous story written in searing prose, Stacia Brown brings us a deeply human, super-smart, uncommonly well-researched historical novel. Accidents of Providence tackles hypocrisy, both sexual and political, and invites us into the revolutionary taverns and chaotic courtrooms of civil-war-torn London, introducing us to the faithful and adulterous, the idealists and opportunists, of an era not so unlike our own. Don't miss it!"
—Sheri Holman, author of The Dress Lodger, among others

"Stacia Brown's debut novel, Accidents of Providence, richly illuminates an important but little known period of history: that of the English Leveller society. Wonderfully detailed and keenly researched, it is a moving portrait of a courageous woman caught between a disastrous affair with a charismatic revolutionary and the draconian laws of the land that would put her to death because of it."
—Kathleen Kent, author of The Heretic's Daughter

"Accidents of Providence is historical fiction at its best. It is absolutely steeped in atmosphere and so vividly re-creates the interregnum era that I felt as though I'd been transported there. Brown's prose has a beautiful originality. Her characters come alive with authenticity and humanity; they are loveable and infuriating, but the reader always believes in them, and invests hopes and fears with them. The story kept me gripped from the very first page—by turns desperately sad, funny, and heartwarming. It is a breath of fresh air. I loved it!"
—Katherine Webb, author of The Legacy

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