Oh how I loved this book!
In fact I voted it my favourite book for January. I don’t read a lot of historical novels, but this one conjured up such a vision rich in detail and texture that I found I couldn’t put it down. I honestly felt like I had stepped into the 1600’s. To be honest, that is one era of history that has always fascinated me – the plague and the Great Fire of London. I was pleased that the author really brought it to life for me with her vivid descriptions. I was amazed to discover that Islington used to be thought of as countryside!
I knew that I would love this book when I first saw the cover for it nearly a year ago. The cover is so beautiful, it reminded me of one of those old fashioned sweets shops you used to be able to go to where you could buy a quarter of your favourite sweets.
Susannah was an amazing character. She never let the ill fate that followed her keep her down for long. She was a strong woman with great intelligence who was often degraded just for being a woman. At the beginning of the story we find her situation similar to Cinderella’s. Her weak willed father has fallen in lust with a much younger woman, Arabella, whose only objective was to find a suitable new home for her children with enough income to keep her in the dresses she desires. You couldn’t blame Arabella for being the way she was, as during that era a woman needed a man to survive; as the sexist nature of society wouldn’t allow women to have a carreer of their own.
Susannah is s desperate to do her best for everyone. Her relationship with Henry is a difficult one and I felt sorry for the way she was treated. However Dr William Ambrose, who appears as austere and moody, is definitely a character I enjoyed!
This book definitely shows a woman’s quest for independence. Susannah is desperate to stand side by side with the men in society – she has the same apothecary skills which they have gained and can see no reason for equality.
In some ways, this book reminded me of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. I think it was the warmth I felt from the book, and the love story which sits at the heart of it. Charlotte’s descriptive writing also reminded me of the way Sally Gardner writes; the way she paints a picture with words.
I am extremely excited by Charlotte’s writing and I long for more books very quickly.