Mesmerism, mystery and murder


My first book in the Historical Fiction Challenge is The Mesmerist by Barbara Ewing.

The Mesmerist

I am not sure where I obtained this book but it is second-hand as it has the price $7 on the inside cover, the price on the back of the book is $33.99.  I think I may have been given it by someone after they had read it.  I didn’t realise it was a historical fiction novel until I went looking on my bookshelves for a book to start me off on my Reading Challenge. ( On my shelves I have several books that I have yet to read.)

It is quite ironical that my first book is also a crime fiction novel, my favourite genre.  The book, set in the early nineteenth century, actually mentions the beginnings of the detective section of the London Police and mention is made of how the back of the department looks out onto Scotland Yard, this no doubt is how the department came to be known as Scotland Yard.

From the book jacket:

Early nineteenth century London sees the controversial rise of the practice of Mesmerism.  Miss Cordelia Preston, a beautiful, ageing, out-of-work actress, with disturbing secrets to hide, suddenly emerges a a Lady Phreno-Mesmerist.

In her candle-lit Bloomsbury basement she finds herself advising young women on marriage and inadvertently, on the matter that must, of course, never be mentioned – the wedding night.  Popular and rich, her success seems unstoppable. . . . 

But success is fragile when you have a past filled with secrets and loss.  On a wintry moonlit night a body is found in Bloomsbury Square: in a crowded coroner’s court, love, hate, murder and revenge are dissected and, suddenly, erupt into a volcanic scandal as Cordelia’s past explodes, bringing not only heartache but terror -and a cloaked figure who waits in the dark and shadowy London streets. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and they way the author has so carefully portrayed early nineteenth century London and the characters to be found there.

You can find a review from The Historical Novel Society here.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. That was a great one to start your challenge with! I think I might enjoy reading it myself, I’ll keep an eye out for it at the library.

    1. suth2 says:

      I have just finished an Anne Perry book, after you recommended her. The book I read was Death in the Devil’s Acre and it had several similarities to The Mesmerist. I really enjoyed the book and read it very quickly.

      1. I’m delighted to hear it! I think she’s an excellent writer and I believe I’ve read the book you mention, although it was a while ago. I did wonder, after reading your review of this one, if it might be along Anne Perry lines. That makes me all the more keen to seek it out, thank you.

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