“Tell me you haven’t felt something here, something you don’t feel anywhere else. A pulse, like the beating of a heart, only its beats are the days and the seasons.”
A Widow in Waiting is the first original novel by aspiring author Anne B Walsh, after finding success in the fanfiction arena with the ever-popular Dangerverse series – Harry Potter fans, check it out!
In fact, A Widow in Waiting – the first book in her intended four-part series, Chronicles of Glenscar – is, in itself, fanfiction, based on one of Celtic Thunder’s performances, Storm.
Storm was unique, in that the songs, although unrelated, were put together and performed to tell a story about a clash between simple villagers and the gypsy folk camped nearby, with a dash of highwaymen, and a sprinkle of romance.
A Widow in Waiting takes nameless characters and vague plotlines and weaves together a tale of magic, romance and family.
It is the year 1786, and from the very start, we are introduced to Eleanor De Maine, wife of the late Alfred De Maine, Lord Farnton. In mourning after her husband’s tragic death at the hands of highwaymen, Eleanor resides in her father’s house, every inch the proper grieving widow.
But her return after her ordeal, accompanied by siblings John and Grace Marlowe, the children of the landowner of a small Irish village called Glenscar, is much more than what it appears to be.
What really happened to Alfred that night? Was it highwaymen, as Eleanor claims? Was it the gypsies camped too close to Glenscar for the villagers’ liking? Or was it John himself who killed Alfred, in an attempt to win Eleanor’s heart?
Anne B Walsh is, as ever, meticulous in her plot-lines and her characters, refusing to sacrifice her characters’ happiness for the sake of drama. And yet these characters are real.
They rise out of the pages – or of the screen on your e-reader, in my case – and entice you into their world.
You laugh with them, cry with them, live with them.
This is much more than a ‘whodunnit’ – but the mystery serves to tie the plot line together, woven seamlessly as you travel between Eleanor’s home in England, and John’s home in Glenscar, as they wait patiently until they are reunited when Eleanor’s mourning comes to a close.
While John and Eleanor wait patiently, the rest of their family and friends have other things to worry about.
Eleanor’s sister-in-law and close friend, Isabel, lives in mourning for the brother she never truly loved. The appearance of two young men in society is more than enough to distract her, but Kieran and Nevan have secrets of their own – not least the roles they may have played in Lord Farnton’s death and the gypsy princess who seems intent on claiming Kieran as her own.
John’s sister, Grace, has her own problem in the form of the dark and dangerous leader of the gypsies, Thunder. A secret rendezvous has left the two inexplicably entangled – and furious about it – but both are too stubborn to just let go.
So I’ve told you about the romance, and about the family …
But I promised you magic as well – and I don’t just mean the sentimental type.
Glenscar’s residents are unique in that they have individual powers – some can ‘move’ things, others control fire or water, others still ‘know’ animals. Across the country, there are isolated others, but on the whole they are confined to this one village.
Thunder claims that the village is as magic as they are, and he may be right. But this magic, like the mystery, does not overshadow the plot, serving instead to sweep it long smoothly.
The Chronicles of Glenscar is intended to be a four-part series, followed up (eventually) by Playing with Fire, Shadow’s Dancing and The Highwayman’s Apprentice.
A Widow in Waiting could easily stand alone, finishing on a firm note with a happy ending. But you want more. Because this tale focuses on John and Eleanor; there simply isn’t enough room in one book to tell everyone’s stories in the way they deserve.
So whilst we see glimpses of Thunder and Grace’s tempestuous romance, and the determined efforts of Shadow (our gypsy princess) to enter high society to get her man, and Nevan’s first careful steps into a whole new world, you want to know the rest of their stories, to hear them told in the same detail as John and Eleanor’s.
And, along with the romance, and the mystery, and the magic, there is humour, woven into the characters’ every day conversations, their thoughts, and the occasional nod to the time-period (for example, Eleanor’s father and a visitor insisting that America’s ‘uprising’ will fail within ten years).
If I had to choose the one thing I find most incredible about this story, it would be that, whilst there are several ‘villains’ in this tale – highwaymen, gypsies, murderers – there are only two that you find wholly reprehensible … and they are not the two you would expect.
I’d give this a 4 out of 5 – simply because the other books aren’t out yet and I’m impatient!
Roxanne Williams (reading it for the tenth time)
A Widow in Waiting is available on Amazon as an eBook or in paperback form.