Monday, May 1, 2017

The Coroner's Daughter by Andrew Hughes

Andrew Hughes' second novel returns to the Dublin setting of his first but earlier in the century to the summer of 1816 when Northern Europe was engulfed in a wintry fog which perplexed scientists and caused much proclamation about the end of the world from religious fanatics. It was known as the year without a summer. The young lady of the title is Abigail Lawless, eighteen years old, a budding scientist full of curiosity and passion for learning. When a young nursemaid in the house of a neighbouring family apparently murders her newborn Abigail cannot help being intrigued about the young woman’s circumstances. She discovers a message from the young maid’s lover and is soon embroiled in an investigation into the fanatical religious sect known as The Brethren and their bitter rivals the rationalist Royal Astronomer Professor Reeves and his followers. Abigail is clever, defiant and resourceful. Her father has provided a thorough scientific education and while he is aware of her intelligence he is also aware of the restrictions society imposes on her, as a woman and there are a number of clashes between father and daughter. Andrew Hughes is a wonderfully talented author bringing Dublin and its surroundings to life with deft characterizations, detailed but never laboured descriptions and a plot which will have readers racing through the pages. An utterly transporting book. Highly recommended especially for fans of Sophia Tobin and Lloyd Shepherd.

Published in February 2017 by Doubleday in hardback 

This review originally appeared in Historical Novels Review Issue 79 Feb 2017

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