Synopses & Reviews
Set in the Catskills on the eve of the Revolutionary War, Seven Locks is a spare, haunting, and beautifully written debut for readers who loved The Story of Edgar Sawtelle.
In the years before the American Revolution, a woman’s husband mysteriously disappears without a trace, abandoning her and her children on their farm at the foot of the Catskill Mountains. At first many believe that the farm wife, who has the reputation of being a scold, has driven her husband away. But as the strange circumstances of his disappearance circulate, a darker story begins to unfold, sending the lost man's wife on a desperate journey to find the means and self-reliance to ensure her family’s survival.
Inspired by a famous American folktale, Seven Locks is an ambitious and poignant exploration of family love, secrets, and misunderstandings, and of the inner and outer lives of the American frontier at the end of the eighteenth century.
In this lyrical and complex book, which opens with a mystery and ends with a literary twist, Wade creates a rich, imaginative and tactile evocation of life and times in the historical Hudson River Valley, where the lines between myth and reality fade in the wilderness beyond the small towns, while an American nation struggles to emerge.
"Relying heavily on inner dialogue and period details, Wade's debut novel examines the many sides of freedom from the perspective of an abandoned wife on the eve of the Revolutionary War. The book's narrator, an unnamed young mother of two on a farm at the base of the Catskill Mountains, must fend for herself after her husband leaves one evening and never returns. Facing the daunting challenge of singlehandedly caring for her son, daughter, and the farm with little help from a gossipy community, the narrator is brought to her wits' end, yet sacrifices time and again for the sake of her children. As they age, however, the children also leave their mother: the son conscripted for the front lines of the Revolution and the daughter for a wider existence. Left completely alone, the woman once again faces her own limitations, until she encounters two possibly former slaves when she ventures off her farm. The three characters together face an uncertain future, all seeking the balance between freedom and stability that will allow for a better life. Overly long but with staccatos of nicely imagined activity, this is a historical novel for those with an appreciation for the interior lives of period figures. Agent: Eleanor Jackson, Markson Thoma Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
The Hudson River Valley, 1769: A man mysteriously disappears without a trace, abandoning his wife and children on their farm at the foot of the Catskill Mountains. At first many believe that his wife, who has the reputation of being a scold, has driven her husband away, but as the strange circumstances of his disappearance circulate, a darker story unfolds. And as the lines between myth and reality fade in the wilderness, and an American nation struggles to emerge, the lost man’s wife embarks on a desperate journey to find the means to ensure her family’s survival . . .
“There was, on the Hudson, a way of life such as this, and there was a house not unlike Dragonwyck.”
In the spring of 1844 the Wells family receives a letter from a distant relative, the wealthy landowner Nicholas Van Ryn. He invites one of their daughters for an extended visit to his Hudson Valley estate, Dragonwyck. Eighteen-year-old Miranda, bored with the local suitors and her commonplace life on the farm, leaps at the chance for escape. She immediately falls under the spell of Nicholas and his mansion, mesmerized by its Gothic towers, flowering gardens, and luxurious lifestyle—unaware of the dark, terrible secrets that await.
Anya Seton masterfully tells the heart-stopping story of a remarkable woman, her extraordinary passions, and the mystery that resides in the magnificent hallways of Dragonwyck.
About the Author
Christine Wade is a researcher with a focus on women’s health care choices and global health traditions. She has worked in Shanghai, Kunming, Hong Kong, and Kuala Lumpur, as well as Verona, Bologna, and Rome. She lives by the Hudson River in New York City and in the Catskill Mountains. Seven Locks won a James Jones Fellowship Prize for an unpublished novel in 2009.