The Widow’s Walk, by Robert Barclay. William Morrow. 320 pages. Trade paperback $14.95.
Since retiring from a career in business and industry-related consulting, the man with the pen name Robert Barclay has developed a remarkable second career as a romance novelist. The latest title from this Coral Springs resident follows the successes of If Wishes Were Horses and More Than Words Can Say. Ante-Bellum culture, architecture, time travel, and other paranormal occurrences combine to make “The Widow’s Walk” intriguing and heartwarming.
When young Massachusetts architect Garrett Richmond decides to purchase and restore the 1830ish home called Seaside, he knows that the task will be enormous, given the sorry condition of the house due to neglect and vandalism. However, it has been a dream of Garrett’s to meet such a challenge and reside in such a splendid Ante-Bellum home. In spite of the contrary advice of family and friends, he embarks on the journey.
What he discovers is that Seaside is haunted – but only for him. That is, the cry of a woman’s voice, unheard by others, reveals the suffering of its 150-year resident, a beautiful young widow named Constance Elizabeth Canfield. Like a ghost, she is caught between two worlds: the world of 1840 New Bedford, and the ongoing present. She has witnessed all the tenants since her husband Adam’s ill-fated voyage on his whaling ship, but she has had no presence to them, as she does to Garrett. She has lived a solitary half-life for seventeen decades. For Garrett, at first skeptical of a hoax of some kind, she proves to be very real – and overwhelmingly attractive.
Slowly, hesitantly, their passion grows and with it their sense of a shared destiny. Whenever they touch, it’s as if a cosmic energy bolt flows through them. They struggle to find out how to understand their unfathomable relationship, eventually turning to a woman learned in the ways of psychic and otherworldly phenomenon, Dr. Brooke Wentworth. She assures them that all of their difficulties have been a test of love and that there is an action they can take, though great risk is involved, that can possibly free Constance. However, there is a chance that Garrett will forfeit his freedom, if not his life, and end up in Constance’s lonely, shadowy netherworld situation.
Mr. Barclay ties present to past and both to a malleable sense of identity and corporality by creating scenes in which Constance briefly returns to the life that was severed so many decades ago. What she encounters “back then” gives clues to the future, but she returns disturbed and frightened. This “flashback” experiences happens several times. Matters become even more complicated when Garrett is also taken back to that time of Adam’s final voyage. Of course, for Garrett it is not really undergoing a flashback as he is not returning to 1840s New Bedford – or is he?
To read the entire review, as it appears in the June 5, 2014 Naples Florida Weekly, the June 11 Fort Myers edition, and the June 12 Bonita Springs and Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte editions,click here Florida Weekly – Barclay 1 and here Florida Weekly – Barclay 2