Walford's Oak

Walford's Oak

by Jill M. Phillips

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A bloody apparition of a man standing over the corpse of the woman he has killed leads English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge to an eerie tale of lust and murder that actually occurred in the Somerset village of Stowey in 1789, eight years before Coleridge's arrival there. With this framing device, Phillips ( The Rain Maiden ) opens a steamy, spellbinding saga of erotic passion and witchcraft. At its center is Cybele Reynolds, a lush beauty of mysterious origins, whose varying fortunes take her from mistress in London drawing rooms to prostitute in Bristol taverns. In an attempt to change her life, she marries a rustic laborer in Stowey, who is faithful to her even when she has a tempestuous, ill-fated affair with her young stepson, Jack Walford. Their mutual fixation leads to a murder for which Jack is hanged. (It was his specter, sighted on a dark country road, that brought the story to Coleridge's attention.) Out of this highly charged material, Phillips weaves drama resonant with both pagan and Christian imagery, swirling about Cybele, who haunts Coleridge's dreams as ``a beautiful woman with pale hair and a dress the color of mist'' weeping near the hanging tree. (July)
Library Journal - Library Journal
Phillips again indulges her interest in history in this novel of 18th-century England. Basing her story on actual events, she traces the development of a tragic romance and love affair. Her Hardyesque characters seem pawns of fate, as they struggle for meager moments of happiness. Cybele, the unwanted child, becomes a wealthy man's paramour until, seeking stability, she marries Will Walford, an older, widowed yeoman. Ultimately, she falls in love with Will's son John, who is loved both by a young woman and a half-wit skilled in witchcraft. A murder and a hanging should end the unhappiness, but John's tormented soul lives on in ghostly sightings by such literary heavies as Coleridge and Wordsworth. As well researched and crafted as her novel of 12th-century Europe ( The Rain Maker , 1987), this spellbinder will be a hit in fiction collections.-- Joan Hinkemeyer, Englewood P.L., Col.

Product Details

Carol Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.76(w) x 8.55(h) x 0.97(d)

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