A Widow in Waiting is a historical fantasy novel by Anne B. Walsh, set in 1786 England and Ireland. Volume I of the Chronicles Of Glenscar, it will be followed by Playing With Fire, Shadow's Dancing, and The Highwayman's Apprentice.
The Chronicles of Glenscar postulate the existence of a hidden village along the eastern coast of Ireland, called Glenscar, where magical abilities called "powers" are commonplace. A power consists of the ability to affect either other people or the natural world, such as persuasion (the ability to make others do as one orders them) true dreaming (seeing either the future or the far-away present in one's dreams), fire calling (being able to summon and control fire), or water sculpting (being able to shape and control water). Any given person will have only one power, though a married couple may use one another's powers to some extent.
A Widow in Waiting follows the adventures of a young woman who was first named Eleanor Langley, and is now Eleanor de Maine, the widowed Lady Farnton. Her husband Alfred had the rogue power of persuasion, and used it to force her into marriage, but Eleanor escaped through the agency of a mysterious highwayman who stole her wedding ring (in which some of Alfred's control of her was anchored) and found her way to Glenscar. There she met John Marlowe, son of the local landowner and a true dreamer, who had been seeing her in his dreams for years and had fallen in love with her. Alfred followed her to Glenscar and was killed there, though the circumstances are mysterious.
By the societal laws of the day, Eleanor should return to her father's home and go through a set period of mourning, at least six months, before she can marry again. She is willing to do so if it means she will eventually have her chance to marry John (whose kind ways and clear concern for her have won her heart), but her father has a "better" second husband in mind for his daughter than some penniless Irish horse breeder. To add to the fun, Eleanor has a power of her own, that of moving, which she must train in secret, though she has the help of her nurse, Annie. Six months seems both far too long and not long enough.
Will love and patience win the day, and Eleanor join hands with John at last? Or is she doomed to live and die a Widow in Waiting?
This novel provides examples of:
- Dreaming of Things to Come: Some true dreamers do this.
- Irish Names: It truly is shocking to have people with Irish names in a book that is set partially in Ireland.
- Love Before First Sight: John to Eleanor
- Making a Splash: Water sculptors
- Meaningful Rename: When John and Grace are dealing with the people of Glenscar (and close friends) they are Seán and Gráinnenote , respectively.
- No Pronunciation Guide: Mercifully averted. There is a glossary in the back of the book giving pronunciations for the Irish names and phrases, as well as the meanings for the latter. If you want the meanings of the names, kindly consult the relevant useful notes.
- Playing with Fire: Firecallers. Also the name of the upcoming second novel in the series.
- Title Drop: Not in the text of the book itself, but in the official back cover summary.
- Translation Convention: There are assorted names and phrases in Irish throughout the book which are given with their modern spellings. This is a good thing, because prior to the 20th century simplification of spelling Irish was even harder for a native anglophone to comprehend.