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.
READ AN EXCERPT
In the month of May, 1898, on his wedding night, Thomas Griffith Smolders was chased around his hotel room, not by his bride, as you might expect, but by a ball of fire -- luminous and strangely cool. Needless to say, this was a clandestine event, occurring as it did in a private room...
1. Rogues’ Wedding is populated with outlandish characters: Amelia Kennedy in her hat made of bones, Raewyn and her bonneted crow, the slick Fenwick Nashe, the disturbing Master Rumwold in his bucket, Hugh… What effect did their oddities have on you while reading? Were there some characters you felt...
“Terry Griggs returns continues to astound with her quirky sense of craft, a delightful mixture of reality and farce, and sharply drawn characters. She’s a hoot. Rogues’ Wedding is a rollicking romp and frivolously fantastical; it’s not heavy, but heavenly.” -- The Hamilton Spectator
“However a reader interprets Rogues’ Wedding, Griggs’ talent for creating engaging characters, both major and minor, her inventiveness with language, her mischievous humour and her refreshing sense of the absurd are sure to please and delight.” -- The Kitchener/Waterloo Record
“Forget the Runaway Bride. Terry Griggs has just immortalized the runaway bridegroom. She’s a wildly inventive storyteller, gifted with a superb turn of phrase. But what a delicious trifle she serves, with Victorian-Gothic panache. Griggs’ dark sense of humour prevails, making Rogues’ Wedding a most engaging read, highly recommended for newlyweds.” -- The Gazette (Montreal) and The Calgary Herald
“In Rogues’ Wedding Griggs hones her voice, creating an unforgettable historical picaresque that paints Victorian Ontario as anything but stodgy and dull. This book is a carnival, filled with freaks and wonders. The narrative is preposterous, the characters fabulous, drawn sharper than life, coloured more brightly, yet after you put the book down, you see them everywhere.” -- The Ottawa Citizen
“Rogues’ Wedding is hugely enjoyable to read, a smart and lively take on social conventions…” -- Uptown magazine, Winnipeg
“Terry Griggs’s second novel is as exuberantly inventive, verbally juiced up and sexually outrageous as her first, The Lusty Man -- and more pointedly iconoclastic….The language, the verbal fireworks, the apparently limitless stream of image and metaphor -- startling, heady, hilarious -- do it all.” -- The Globe and Mail
“The result is both high drama and comedy, rolling into one. Rogues’ Wedding is a hoot, a wonderful shaggy dog story, and, for the readers around Georgian Bay, a book full of the familiar. It is part farce, part quest, and wildly comic.” -- The Sun Times (Owen Sound)
“With astonishing talent and control, [Griggs] smashes apart Victorian society (and modern society by extension) and rebuilds it as a Swiftian fantasy, raucous as Huckleberry Finn and nearly as bizarre as Alice in Wonderland…This is a rich mixture, intensely intoxicating and bestowing delicious feelings of hallucination.” -- Quill & Quire
Praise for Terry Griggs:
“Griggs creates magical transformations with words alone.” -- The Vancouver Sun
“. . . like Robertson Davies on speed.” -- The Globe and Mail
From the Hardcover edition.