Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/
Terry has been reading Sinclair by Julia Herdman
SINCLAIR by Julia Herdman
4 out of 5 stars
Sinclair is a drama set in the late 18th century, mostly in various areas of London. It begins with the Scottish protagonist, James Sinclair—eager to escape the disapproval of his father yet reluctant to leave the woman he loves—setting sail for India, where he is to take up a post as a physician/surgeon. Alas, he gets no further than Dorset; after violent storms, the ship is wrecked. Sinclair is among the meagre number of survivors, along with the outgoing and friendly Captain Frank Greenwood. Together, they make their way back to London.
Meanwhile, back in Southwark, widow Charlotte Leadam is in great difficulty. Mourning her husband, she faces bankruptcy, and also has to deal with an overpowering and aspirational mother and sister, both eager to run her life.
The novel is extremely well researched, with all sorts of historically interesting snippets, much about the medical practices of the time and plenty of social and domestic detail. The author has a pleasantly readable writing style, and I very much liked the social tittle-tattle and snobbery aspect involving the wives and mothers, which made for some excellent, amusing characterisation.
A slight downside for me was the lack of plot direction; there are many, many characters, and the narrative ‘head-hops’ constantly between character points of view, of which there are many. There are so many plot diversions and side-plots that it was a bit like reading an 18th century version of The Archers or EastEnders. However, I understand that this is the first in a series, so I’m guessing this is exactly what it is: the continuing story of the colourful characters connected to Tooley Street! All the relationships, possible relationships and social gatherings certainly entertained me, though I kept expecting plot threads to develop into a main storyline, or deepen; certain aspects could have made for interesting reading, such as the corruption within the East India Company, the HMS Bounty, Charlotte’s potential bankruptcy, but were only touched upon in passing, with the main storylines remaining domestic. Personal woes for Sinclair and Greenwood do provide more intrigue, and bring some of the other threads together. I liked the last paragraph very much, incidentally.
To sum up, as a ‘life and times’ sort of work, or an illustration of the period, it’s a good example, and, although a bit too ‘cosy’ and HEA for me, I’d recommend it to lovers of the family saga genre or anyone who likes nicely written, lovingly researched, light historical fiction.
Edinburgh surgeon, James Sinclair is prepared to give up his family and the woman he loves to make his fortune with East India Company but when things don’t go to plan he is forced to start his life anew. Returning to London Sinclair finds himself torn between the love of two women – the young and attractive widow Charlotte Leadam the owner of the Tooley Street apothecary shop and the vivacious and clever Iona McNeal.
Thus begins the Tales of Tooley Street, a heart-warming and gripping saga about a family of apothecary surgeons in 18th century London. Set against the corruption and greed of the East India Company and the development of the medical profession in Georgian London this story of love and friendship has a cast of characters that will imprint themselves onto your heart forever.
About the author
Julia Herdman studied history at the University of Kent in Canterbury where she focused on medieval and early modern history reading the Roman classics, Norse sagas and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. Now her interest and inspiration is the development of the urban middle class in Georgian Britain, particularly the development of the medical profession in Edinburgh and London. Writing about the things nice girls shouldn’t mention in polite conversation – politics, religion, sex and money is her passion. Her books are steeped in period detail and focus on family, friendship and love. At the heart of every story there is always a powerful and compelling romance.