Monday, June 8, 2015

Viper Wine by Hermione Eyre

Viper WineAt Whitehall Palace in 1632, the ladies at the court of Charles I are beginning to look suspiciously alike. Plump cheeks, dilated pupils, and a heightened sense of pleasure are the first signs that they have been drinking a potent new beauty tonic, Viper Wine, distilled and discreetly dispensed by the physician Lancelot Choice.

Famed beauty Venetia Stanley is so extravagantly dazzling she has inspired Ben Jonson to poetry and Van Dyck to painting, provoking adoration and emulation from the masses. But now she is married and her “mid-climacteric” approaches, all that adoration has curdled to scrutiny, and she fears her powers are waning. Her devoted husband, Sir Kenelm Digby – alchemist, explorer, philosopher, courtier, and time-traveller – believes he has the means to cure wounds from a distance, but he so loves his wife that he will not make her a beauty tonic, convinced she has no need of it.  
This book astounded me. It wasn’t so much the storyline, which was interesting enough in its own right, but the manner in which the author told it. She has an incredible way of expressing herself, in an almost cinematographic way. She uses small jumps of view point which enhance our understanding of the story as well as increasing the tension in a particular scene. 

One of the things I loved most about this novel was the mixture of the modern along with the period details. The flashes of the future which Kenelm receives are intricately woven into the storyline in a way that do not distract but instead enhance the narrative. Apart from the obvious extensive research the author has done to put us right in the middle of this time period, there is a wonder to her words that bring it all to life. 

This is one of my favorite books of the year and an author I will definitely watch with much interest.

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