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One of the challenge points on the Better World Books 2017 Reading […]
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I was an unwilling nun, bundled into the convent by a family that had briefly lost its head . . .
The nuns caught me early by my sweet tooth, hanging sugared almonds, balsamic lozenges, and candied fruit in the humid swoop of the orchard branches whenever we went . . .
I married Christ in a delirium spun of sweetened wine. I was only bitter later, when I saw little girls dreambound in the smell of almonds and burnt sugar in the orchard. For by then of course I knew full well . . . that God did not make such trees."
So begins "The Remedy," a lush and riveting new work of historical fiction by the author of the The Floating Book.
Set against the vivid, haunting backdrops of eighteenth-century Venice and London, "The Remedy" weaves together the stories of three mesmerizing characters: Venetian actress Mimosina Dolcezza -- snatched from a convent as a young woman, employed as an actress and agente provocatrice by powerful and shadowy European power brokers; the dark prince of London's medical underworld, the roguish Valentine Greatrakes; and the strange, peevish child-woman Pevenche, whose fate and identity are at the heart of the book's mystery. The love affair between Mimosina and Valentine begins in the wake of a murder and tumbles forward based on dangerous secrets and elaborate lies. As the lovers unravel the tangled truths of each other's pasts, "The Remedy" lures us along a path from the dank environs of London's Bankside to the vibrant streets of Venice, through playhouses and brothels, convents and crypts, with a sensual eye for detail that breathes heady, intoxicating life into the era.
Long-listed for the prestigious Orange Prize for Fiction, The Remedyis scholarly, seductive, and teeming with Rabelaisian characters -- a gorgeous novel that will keep the reader aching with suspense and haunted long after the final page is turned.
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