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.
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.
This was a really fascinating read. Having read books like The Scandalous Lady W and Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, I knew 18th Century women were treated appalling in their unhappy marriages as they had no rights and not even custody of their own children.
But to have your wife kidnapped, not once, not twice, but three times (the third isn’t covered in the book but is mentioned in the author’s afterword) is a new extreme.
Rachel, Lady Grange, may not have always been easy to live with; her fierce temper and fondness for claret saw to that, but she didn’t deserve the punishment her husband and his Jacobite pal Lord Lovet dreamed up for her.
Fleshing out the limited details available about Lady Grange’s life, Sue Lawrence has created a fascinating, enjoyable and eminently readable piece of historical fiction.