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Cover image for The weaver and the factory maid
The weaver and the factory maid
1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Thomas Dunne Books, 2003.
Physical Description:
182 p. ; 22 cm.


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Haunted by the ghosts of characters memorialized in their songs, a pair of lovers must uncover the truth behind the ghosts' deaths.

When Ringan Laine, British folk musician, becomes the owner of a restored eighteenth-century cottage, he discovers right away that the cottage and the ancient barn on Ringan's property are haunted.

Ringan and his longtime lover Penny, researching the identity of their unwanted tenants, learn that they were a young couple, victims of a famous double murder in the year 1817 - their story the subject of a song that is a staple in Ringan's repertoire. And they must stage a full-scale musical exorcism to lay the ghostly couple to rest.

The Weaver and the Factory Maid is only the first in what promises to be an exciting new mystery series features the ghosts of characters in folk ballads.

Author Notes

Deborah Grabien lives in San Francisco, California.

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

A cozy series based on folk ballads with ghosts may be good in theory, but in her mystery debut, Grabien, the author of a couple of mystical fantasies (The Eyes in the Fire; Plainsong), offers too little plot and a less than engaging protagonist, the self-centered Ringan Laine. An English musician and architect, Ringan specializes in restoring old houses. After he obtains a life interest in a West Country barn and cottage from a defaulting client, he discovers that the former building is haunted by the ghost of a lovelorn weaver, the latter by the spirit of the girl the weaver loved. The deceased make their presence felt to Ringan and his hearty girlfriend, Penny Wintercraft-Hawkes, who enjoin others to help lay the ghosts to rest. The only mystery here, given away on the back of the galley, doesn't amount to much by conventional crime standards. Handselling to folklore fans and New Agers may help take up the slack left by disappointed mystery readers. Agent, Jennifer Jackson at DMLA. (Dec. 8) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

When British folk musician Ringan Laine receives a lifetime lease on a cottage in lieu of payment for renovations done on a Somerset manor house, he has no idea the place is haunted. That changes quickly when ghostly figures begin to appear. Ringan and his lover, Penny, investigate the cottage's history and determine that the ghosts are a weaver and a factory maid, young lovers murdered in 1817. Only a musical exorcism by his group, the Broomfield Hill Quartet, will let the lovers rest and allow Ringan to claim his property. In this first in a series that will explore the ghosts of characters in folk ballads, Grabien effectively mixes the ghost story with the contemporary drama. Each chapter opens with part of the ballad of the weaver and the factory maid. Nicely incorporating period details and background on folk music, this involving tale will appeal especially to ghost-story fans and to readers of Sharyn McCrumb's Songcatcher (2001) and Erin Hart's Haunted Ground BKL My 1 03. --Sue O'Brien Copyright 2003 Booklist

Kirkus Review

Nineteenth-century ghosts whose story is enshrined in a folk ballad haunt a British country cottage. When a cash-flow problem prevents stuffy Scots land baron Albert Wychsale from paying laid-back Ringan Laine, musician and sometime carpenter, for renovation work to Wychsale House, Ringan, currently renting a London flat, accepts free lodging in the cottage and barn behind Wychsale House (called Lumbe's) as payment. Blasts of cold air and other strange phenomena give Ringan pause, but not till arrival of his longtime ladylove Penny (a theatrical powerhouse who produces, directs, designs, and plays leading roles in her productions) and Jane (a fellow member of the Broomfield Hill Quartet) does he conclude that there's a ghost or two in residence and begin to take action. Consulting local historical records, they find evidence of a horrible crime. In 1817, young George Roeper went berserk when he saw his sister Betsy spooning with local weaver Bill Corby and murdered both the lovers, she in the barn and he in the nearby river. The story of Betsy and Bill, which comes from a ballad the ghosts sing, provides a title, the first in a proposed series based on folk ballads. Although unthreatening ghosts produce low-voltage thrills, pastoral warmth and sunny prose from Grabien (Plainsong, 2000, etc.) entertain. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Library Journal Review

British folk musician/house restorer Ringan Laine lucks into ownership of a restored 18th-century cottage and much older tithing barn in Somerset. From day one, he realizes the place is haunted: debilitating cold spots, the scent of lavender, strange visions, etc. With the help of actress/lover Penny and others, Ringan identifies the characters haunting the site, victims of a notorious double murder in 1817 and subjects of a ballad Ringan's music group plays. Allowing the spirits to rest comes next. Filled with charm, personality, and wit, this is the first entry in an intriguing new series featuring the ghosts of characters in old English ballads. Strongly recommended for most collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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