Novelist Stacia Brown tonight at Decatur Library

When I first met Stacia Brown years ago, when she was a graduate student in religion, the main thing that struck me was her ability to think about many, many different things at once—ethics, faith, literature, history, social justice, body image, you name it—and somehow make them all make sense together.

So it stands to reason that the best outlet for her creative energies would be a historical novel—one that draws on her training and research in religion and history.

Stacia, who has graduate degrees from Emory in religion and historical theology and now works at the university, is giving an author talk and reading tonight from that novel, her first, titled Accidents of Providence, at the Decatur Library. The event, which starts at 7:15, is sponsored by the Georgia Center for the Book and Charis Bookstore.

If you like highly literate and incredibly well researched historical fiction with a suspenseful tale of a courageous woman (and I do—think Geraldine Brooks!), then you need to discover Accidents of Providence.  It tells the story of Rachel Lockyer, an ordinary tradeswoman in seventeenth-century London during the civil wars, who is condemned to death for allegedly murdering her infant born out of wedlock. But throughout her trial, she remains deliberately evasive about what she did or did not do. Rachel is an original, sharp-witted, and rebellious main character. She was drawn, Stacia has said, out of the challenge of imagining the inner life of a working-class woman of that era—a task doomed to failure, she had been assured, because women of that time did not have inner lives.

It’s a juicy, provocative story—and Stacia adds that it is also a love story, a story of women’s relationships, and a story of the telling and keeping of secrets. And it’s getting lots of praise in high places. Kirkus Reviews gave it a starred review with this endorsement: “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.” And this from Library Journal: “This is the best kind of historical fiction—a combination of love story and murder mystery, with a sprinkling of intriguing historical snippets and wonderful writing.” Even Oprah’s magazine has called it “proof that a historical novel can be educational and entertaining, and nothing like homework.”

Stacia has a website with more information at www.staciabrown.com/. Or come meet her tonight and pick up a copy of Accidents of Providence!