Author(s): Hermione Eyre
"Shortlisted for the 2015 Walter Scott Prize At Whitehall Palace in 1632, the ladies at the court of Charles I are beginning to look suspiciously alike. Plump cheeks, dilated pupils, and a heightened sense of pleasure are the first signs that they have been drinking a potent new beauty tonic, Viper Wine, distilled and discreetly dispensed by the physician Lancelot Choice. Famed beauty Venetia Stanley is so extravagantly dazzling she has inspired Ben Jonson to poetry and Van Dyck to painting, provoking adoration and emulation from the masses. But now she is married and her mid-climacteric approaches, all that adoration has curdled to scrutiny, and she fears her powers are waning. Her devoted husband, Sir Kenelm Digby alchemist, explorer, philosopher, courtier, and time-traveller believes he has the means to cure wounds from a distance, but he so loves his wife that he will not make her a beauty tonic, convinced she has no need of it. From the whispering court at Whitehall, to the charlatan physicians of Eastcheap, here is a marriage in crisis, and a country on the brink of civil war. The novel takes us backstage at a glittering Inigo Jones court masque, inside a dou
A richly evocative and playful story of beauty, vanity and addiction, set at a time when England was on the cusp between magic and science.
Winner of Kitschies: Gold Tentacle 2015. Shortlisted for Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction 2015. Long-listed for Folio Prize 2015.
Hermione Eyre is a journalist and former croupier. She read English at Hertford College, Oxford and was a staff writer and TV critic at the Independent on Sunday for seven years, then chief interviewer at the London Evening Standard Magazine. This is her first novel.