Morgan Wade
2019 |

A well written Canadian novel set in Canada that carries interesting charictors set in 1818. Creedence Scriven, an indifferent doctor and aspiring playwright, is found in the company of a young, male drug addict and is accused of sodomy. Scriven insists the charges are false, claiming that he was at the opium den only in his capacity as a physician at the behest of the boy's mother. For the sake of propriety, Scriven's father decides that he must leave for the relative obscurity of the colonies, threatening to cut off his substantial annuity if he refuses. When Scriven lands in Kingston in 1818, he is the town's best dressed man. He is determined to remake himself. Part one of the book ends at the wedding of Rupert and Amelia. At the ceremony, Lenore confides to Lilac that her remedies have worked: she is pregnant. Part two begins with Lenore leaving for her sister's home in New Haven to stay for an indefinite time. Scriven hosts an evening of the Headstrong Club with special guest Robert Gourlay, the notorious reformer, speaking on truth and censorship. For months, Gourlay has been goading the province's most influential establishment figures. Kingston's Christopher Hagerman ambushes Gourlay in the street, striking him with a bull whip, while the town magistrate looks on. When Scriven and Jeremy protest they make for themselves powerful enemies. The group decide they will make their own paper from rags. Scriven contributes his entire wardrobe, including all his finest shirts, trousers, and cravats. The night before publication a drunk mob breaks into the print shop and destroys the press. Distraught, Scriven leaves the shop with his only remaining possession, the pages of his nearly finished play. He ends up at Lilac's old shack in the slum. He finishes writing the play, and titles it Bespoke Bespeaks. It is mid-winter and in the draughty shack Scriven is freezing. Eventually he is forced to cut and fold the pages of the play into makeshift clothing. It isn't enough. Lilac intercepts a letter to the editor that accuses Lenore of having an illegitimate baby, possibly with Jeremy. Lilac sacrifices herself by claiming that the baby is hers, an unwanted consequence of her previous profession. She stops by her old shack on the way out of town and discovers Scriven, frozen to death. Before she leaves for good, she makes sure that Scriven is given a proper funeral. Again, Rupert Spafford returns to Willowpath from the cock fights, drunk. He has won a packet. In a celebratory mood, he forces himself on Amelia. The next morning she brings him a hang-over cure laced with laudanum. She encourages him to meet his drinking companion at the ice fishing hut. He is reluctant. She cajoles him. He ventures out on to the rotten ice, dazed from the opiates taking affect, and he falls through. She raises no alarm. Jeremy is removed from his teaching position by the school board, deemed too radical to instruct the young, impressionable minds of the district's working class. Amelia has secured Willowpath once again. She also retains Rupert's sizeable windfall from the cock fights. Her purse strings freed, she invests in the establishment of a new press, with Jeremy as her editor. When the Freemasons put a time capsule behind the cornerstone of the new county courthouse, Jeremy manages to include a copy of Scriven's completed play, Bespoke Bespeaks. News is brought from Bolivia that Major Stokes has been killed in action. After an appropriate amount of time, Lenore remarries, taking Jeremy as her husband. Together, they adopt the foundling.

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