Book review to appear in Sunday’s #Galveston Daily News.
Galveston:1900 Indignities, Book Five: The Arrangement
by N. E. Brown, Copyright N.E. Brown, 2015
Paperback, 344 pages, $12.99
The year is 1906, Catherine Merit Mathews has endured much since her arrival in Galveston, TX from England six years earlier.
Now recently married to Trent Mathews, she has completed medical school while living in Galveston, been kidnapped, tortured, and escaped, withstood the most powerful hurricane to ever strike Galveston, lost her husband among
between 6,000-8,000 others during a September night in 1900. At age twenty-five, Catherine, mother of four children, and husband, an oil scout on the surface appear to have a perfect life. The family has recently moved to the town of Rosenberg, west of Houston, where she has set up her medical practice.
All is not as it appears. She is haunted by her past, little of which she has told her loving, patient and endearing husband to all the children, none of whom are his offspring, until she learns of her pregnancy. Because of her practice and Trent’s being gone much of the time, the couple hires another couple originally from France, though they know little about either’s
background. Only Sadie, a young girl from the Galveston orphanage, who accompanied the family from Galveston, as a housekeeper, feels strangely uncomfortable around the man’s presence, but says nothing ; sensing it’s inappropriate as household staff to say anything about another staff member.
The Mathews’ couple is visited by the sheriff and not long thereafter by a member of the Texas Rangers. It’s this visit that
could be novel’s turning point, but the Mathews are in denial and shock about what has been said. If Emily, the children’s wonderful caretaker and wife of Martin, the cook, could have gone to mistress of the house, telling Catherine of what she’s endured. That conversation might have changed what happened as well. She was very much afraid of her husband after what she had experienced by his hand, and then, she’d thought, ‘Where would I go?’
Only he knows that he hates cooking and is brewing up something that will enable to stop both cooking as well as his second trade, enabling him’ to move on, and free himself and start fresh,’ to quote his thoughts. His most difficult task was for him
to be patient, something very difficult for him to do. He must wait, co-ordinate plans with others, when he trusted no one. In the meantime, he continued frequent trips to town to continue his other trade, the one he’d learned as a young child. He was good at this trade but he had nearly been caught in Europe and since coming to America.
The arrangement planned would set him in good circumstances for a long time if things went off as planned, At first things went well indeed.
For Catherine, the children and Trent, on the other had, what had occurred was another indignity, the worst ever experienced.
This extremely well thought out and written series, will keep the reader on the edge of his/her seat. What was the plan Martin, the French cook had concocted? It certainly had nothing to do with food. Although this is fifth in the series, the author weaves what has happened in previous books so well that the reader knows a pertinent information within the first two chapters. Readers my wish to read previous books as I have, to see if I could pick out bits missed earlier. Of the five, this is the most uncertain and exciting of all five novels. Why? You’ll need to read the book yourself to find out.
Marnie is an avid puzzler,story teller of adult and children’s short stories
who now lives in Texas