This debut historical fiction novel has taken me back to a time I would not have necessarily chosen, but something drew me to this book especially when I learn that the main character Lady Christian Nimmo was in fact a real person.
It is 1679, Edinburgh. Lady Christian Nimmo is to be hanged for the murder of her lover Lord James Forrester. Not just her lover but her uncle.
We are taken from 1679 with Lady Christian Nimmo incarcerated awaiting her fate to the previous twelve months where her passion with Lord James Forrester begins, develops and how it ends with a death sentence. Amongst this tale of lovers is that of Violet.
Violet is far displaced form the society of Lady Christian Nimmo. She finds her safety in the pleasure houses of Edinburgh, Mrs Fiddes rules the roost and the girls within. AS men come and go, to find their pleasure however they desire. One of those men is Lord James Forrester and by a twist of fate, a transaction is made and Violet finds herself at the castle of this man. Secluded in a turret, with only a maid for company, Violet finds herself surplus to requirements when Lady Christian Nimmo appears on the scene.
As worlds collide, the women have to rally to summon strength to maintain their position with some unforeseen consequences.
This book takes the story of women from history, and fleshes it out and gives a voice to those in every walk of life. To those who are overlooked because they are women, or because of the life they are forced to lead to survive. I felt great passion for Lady Christian and whilst I condemned to begin with, as the novel moves on I find myself starting to question, to doubt when you have the full facts in front of you. Even Violet I wanted to champion wished her well on the life she wanted to create for herself out of nothing.
With equal distaste for Lord James, a man we only know through the eyes of the women who know him, including his wife. Manipulative, selfish, arrogant, egotistical and most of all controlling. This behaviour of his, this apparent plan had been growing for years and his victim chosen a long time before it all started. Perhapsi t was his arrognace that made he realise that it coudl all end very swiftly.
This book, is atmospheric from every page, whether it be the dank, dark and smells of the prison cell. To the gaudiness of the whore houses or the bedrooms of the whores, to the actions when an unwanted baby is discovered. Nothing is shied away from and you find yourself repulsed by such actions, but it adds so much tot he book I was drawn in and had to keep reading.
If this is the debut, then it can only get better for this author and I am intrigued as to what will come from the pen next. One of my books of the year.
Perfect for fans of historical fiction and championing the overlooked parts of history and the part women played, even if the outcome is less desirable.
Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.
The Maiden is out now.