Rogues’ Wedding is a masterful and wildy inventive novel from acclaimed author Terry Griggs. Set in 1898, it takes us on a comic romp across Victorian Ontario, through a landscape full of extraordinary characters and natural wonders, as we follow two newlyweds whose fates are more entwined than they’d like to believe.
As Griffith Smolders prepares to join his new wife in the bedroom of their bridal suite, he takes an inordinate amount of care in disrobing. What slows him down is not a meticulous nature, but rather fear and self-doubt -- and a suspicion that Avice’s sexual knowledge far exceeds his own. While pacing the room and fretting about what awaits him, Grif is startled by a mysterious, glowing ball of light that floats in through the window. He wonders if it might be the work of some prankster, intent on disrupting the night’s activities, but when the ball begins to chase him around the room and singe his heels, he knows it must be an omen: a sign that in marrying Avice he has made a terrible, terrible mistake. Jumping out the window, he escapes the fiery menace -- and his bride -- and runs off into the night.
True to Grif’s fears, the bold Avice has positioned herself on the bed “dressed in absolutely nothing but her frightening knowledge,” and spends the moments leading up to her mate’s arrival smiling at the thought of his nervous preparations. But after an hour has passed, she investigates and discovers that she is utterly alone. At first she is too overwhelmed to move, but Avice has never been one to play the victim or accept defeat. Her shock is soon replaced with fury and she swears to exact her revenge: she will claim what is hers, no matter the cost (to him). Taking care not to alert her family to Grif’s disappearance, she heads out on their honeymoon as planned -- and then begins to hunt Grif down.
So begins Rogues’ Wedding, and the fanciful flight -- and fight -- at its heart. Whereas Avice knows very well her destination -- wherever she can find and punish her errant husband -- Grif is propelled forward only by his desire to flee. After he leaves London he heads north, and his vagabond journey becomes a magical odyssey through the landscape and society of Victorian Ontario. What he finds along the way is mostly trouble. Traversing the countryside, Grif resorts to thievery to make his way, but without much success. Then he comes to the aid of a coquettish young lady and mistakenly boards a ship that is about to sink. He is the sole survivor of the wreck, and when he washes up on shore he is taken in by a nurturing lighthouse keeper who attempts to set him back on track by sending him off with an amateur naturalist to roam the shoreline. But of course Grif doesn’t really have a track, and when his encounter with a bizarre family leads to accusations of murder, he holes up in a small hotel on Manitoulin Island to await his certain demise. There, it’s not the law that catches up with him, but Avice. And their reunion, when it happens, is blisteringly intense.
From the Trade Paperback edition.