Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Mystery Black As She’s Painted by @penandpension #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading Black As She’s Painted by William Savage

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Black as She’s Painted is the fifth book in the Ashmole Foxe Mysteries series by William Savage.  His other series is the Dr. Adam Bascom Mysteries and both are set in Georgian England, in and around Norwich. I will be honest and reveal I am a huge fan of William Savage and have enjoyed both of these mystery series. However, even though I come from a medical background, the Ashmole Foxe books are slight favorites, possibly because of the charismatic, unconventional and quirky protagonist.

Ashmole Foxe is a bookseller with his own shop, run largely and profitably for him by an entrepreneurial widow, Mrs. Crombie. Foxe is a dandy and an unrepentant hedonist, a lover of beautiful women in his bed, fine wine and a surfeit of good food, but despite all these social faults, he has solved several other mysteries for Norwich’s political and mercantile elite. Thus it is natural for him to be approached for assistance when a rich goldsmith turned banker Samuel Mellanus goes missing. Almost immediately there is further news: the banker’s wife, who has a promiscuous reputation, has been found naked and strangled to death in her own bed.

A group of politicians/merchants need Foxe to find Mellanus, since having a missing banker is catastrophic for a bank and its money, but they also need him to discover how thousands of pounds have been stolen from the bank, without anyone noticing they were missing…until now. Add to this conundrum is the fact that Mellanus had closed his gold smithing business for no apparent reason, letting all his workers go, and Foxe discovers that coins and jewelry were taken from Mr. and Mrs. Mellanus by their pretty maid Maria.

Can Foxe find Mellanus and the missing money? Was Eleanor Mellanus as black as she was painted, or was it simply her misfortune to be both desirable and dumb, used and betrayed by the men she welcomed to her bed?

To solve these crimes, Foxe will use his considerable investigative powers and intellect, plus the help of characters introduced in previous books: a motley crew of street children, Mistress Tabby – a so-called Cunning Woman or folk healer, who practices folk medicine and magic, and a sea captain, Captain Brock, who has just returned from his honeymoon.

As usual, the author wraps the solution to these crimes in layer upon layer of hard- won information, much of it not useful at the time of its uncovering, plus a number of tangential crimes. Also as usual, the reader learns a great deal about specific aspects of Georgian life. In each book one of these aspects is a focal point, in this case coinage and banking.

William Savage is a living compendium of Georgian life, and he creates a world into which the reader is absorbed, alternatively colorful and dangerous, and populated by characters that become real. Over the series, I have come to look forward to the reappearance of many of them, interested in how their lives are evolving, as they most certainly do.

I was not disappointed by the tangled ball of yarn created by the author to be unwound by Ashmole Foxe. The pacing of this mystery series is slow, in keeping with life in Georgian England, and is something I have learned to enjoy. It allows the reader to savor the story.

If I had one criticism, it is the length of time it takes to get to the mystery. There is always a period of introduction at the beginning of the Foxe stories but this one was long enough to be on the tedious side.

I was also disappointed that the changes in Foxe’s life in the last book – his turn to more sedate attire and true consideration of the women in his life – were not evident in this one. Can this man go on forever in his present state? Will age catch up with him? I guess I will have to wait for the next book to find out.

In any event, as always, I strongly recommend this latest Ashmole Foxe adventure to anyone who likes historical mysteries and to anyone who might!

Book description

Samuel Melanus, a rich goldsmith turned banker goes missing, and his promiscuous wife is found naked and strangled on her own bed. It’s yet another case for Georgian Norwich’s most cunning and unconventional crime-solver, the bookseller Mr Ashmole Foxe.

Foxe is approached by representatives of the city’s mercantile elite to find the missing banker before his disappearance causes a financial panic. Then, right at the start, news comes that the man’s wife has been found murdered. Thus begins a tale of intrigue, deceit and hatred, involving one of Foxe’s most loathed enemies.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT @LizanneLloyd reviews Georgian #HistFic Sinclair by @JuliaHerdman

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs at https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Sinclair by Julia Herdman

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After a surfeit of Tudor novels, my preferred era for historical fiction is the Victorian age, but I am beginning to discover the rich seam of social life, politics and sexual tension in the Georgian age.

In Julia Herdmans’ novel, we meet Edinburgh surgeon James Sinclair leaving his unhappy life in Edinburgh for a rewarding future with the East India Company. Luckily for the reader he is thwarted in this plan and instead takes a partnership in a surgeon/apothecary business in south London. The story reveals the suffering of so many patients in those days and the sometimes unhelpful remedies provided. Sinclair is a caring, astute doctor who does his best for his patients and trains his apprentices well, but he is somewhat inadequate in his understanding of women.

There are several other fascinating characters in this novel, particulary Charlotte Leadam, recently widowed and struggling to survive without entering into an unhappy pecuniary marriage. As the plot progresses the families of Charlotte and Sinclair become enmeshed and his selfish behaviour threatens them all. Against the background of the social life of London, Yorkshire and Edinburgh the story tells of evil doings and generous spirits.

This is the first book of a family saga and its satisfying conclusion, though possibly too perfect, sets the scene for more interesting developments in a following volume. This was a book I opened each evening with great interest as I got to know this talented, enigmatic man and hoped that he would sort out his life.

Book Description

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

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.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

 

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Sinclair by @juliaherdman Georgian #HistFic #fridayreads

Today’s Second Team review is from Noelle, she blogs here http://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading Sinclair by Julia Herdman

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Sinclair, Tales of Tooley Street Vol. 1 by Julia Herdman is historical fiction and a twisting love story set in Georgian England, a setting I’ve come to enjoy from the mysteries written by William Savage. The author did not disappoint with this first outing, and I look forward to more from her.

Sinclair begins with two disparate story lines. Edinburgh surgeon, James Sinclair, is leaving England as well as his beloved, a woman he feels is out of his reach in society, to make his fortune with the East India Company. As a surgeon, Sinclair was educated in a medical school in Edinburgh, learning to perform surgeries, and trained in obstetrics. The ship on which he sails runs into a ferocious storm and founders on the English coast. Only he and Captain Frank Greenwood, who is overseeing a company of British soldiers deployed to India, survive the shipwreck. Both return to London shaken and adrift in their lives, both needing to find a way to support themselves.

The second story line begins in a Yorkshire farmhouse, where John Leadam and his mother, Charlotte, are mourning the sudden death of Christopher Leadam, a surgeon at Guy’s Hospital in London who, together with his wife, ran an apothecary on Tooley Street. Apothecaries at that time were not legal practitioners of medicine but had the drugs to treat people who could not afford a physician. Charlotte, as a woman, could not continue to run the apothecary without the onsite presence of a physician. John was his father’s apprentice, hoping to follow in his father’s footsteps. Now their lives are also adrift. Charlotte has no idea how she will support herself and her son, other than moving back into her parents’ upper class home. She dreads being married off by her mother, who disapproves of her deceased husband, to a wealthy, older man.

Gradually the lives of Charlotte, John, and Sinclair begin to interweave, brought together by Charlotte’s brother-in-law, who happens to be Sinclair’s lawyer. The book is interesting on many different levels: the plight of women and their utter dependence on men in Georgian society; the practice of medicine at the time; social customs; and the growing attraction between Charlotte and Sinclair and their off-again, on-again relationship. The author does not shirk from some of the more distasteful details of Sinclair’s dalliances nor the results of typically unprotected sex: disease, pregnancy and death.

There are many colorful characters to draw the reader, and the author does a perfect job making them memorable. The historical background is wonderfully detailed, as is the medical scene in London, evidence of the author’s interest in the medicine of the time. There are love affairs with twists and turns, villains and saviors, passion and politics – in short, everything needed for a great read.

The author was inspired to begin writing The Tales of Tooley Street series by a real family of apothecary surgeons, the Leadams, who lived and worked in London there from the late 18th century to the mid- 19th century.

I highly recommend this book: five stars.

Book Description

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

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.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

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