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Alchemy [Paperback]

Maureen Duffy
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
RRP: 11.99
Price: 10.69 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

5 Sep 2005

A compelling mystery blending the witch trials of the past with a contemporary case of academic intrigue from this brilliant, well-loved novelist.

Jade Green is a solicitor with her own practice, Lost Causes, that she runs from her London flat. She struggles to keep her business afloat, and supplements her income by delivering for the local Chinese takeaway.

Her life changes with a single phonecall. Dr Gilbert has been dismissed from his post teaching the history of science at the University of Wessex. Allegations have been made that he was corrupting the students with Satanism; the professor himself suspects the university to be controlled by a fundamentalist Christian sect.

As Jade delves into this bizarre case, she finds herself drawn into a seventeenth-century manuscript, the original of which has been stolen from the Professor's briefcase at the university. It is ‘The Memorial of Amyntas Boston’, a young woman – raised as a boy – who is awaiting trial for dabbling in the black arts and in alchemy. Taken into service by Mary Sidney, she had fallen in love with her mistress and ultimately found herself betrayed by her.

The two stories intertwine as Jade feels her life – her hidden identities and her secret love – mysteriously resonate with Amyntas's. In this sweeping novel, Maureen Duffy combines the pleasures of detection with the mysteries of fraud, alchemy, early science and witchcraft. By turns passionate and drily witty, this is an immensely compelling tale.

Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (5 Sep 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9997021452
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007149667
  • ASIN: 0007149662
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 957,524 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Deftly handles the movement between two worlds, four centuries apart. Her range of cultural reference is dazzling.' Literary Review

'Riveting … blending passion, wit, and witchcraft to sparkling effect.' Daily Mail

'A fascinating coda to the history of the twentieth century politically engaged novel … a novel that bristles with ideas.' Sunday Times

'A novel of high emotion and devious stratagems … I read avidly to the (literally) incendiary close.' Spectator

Praise for Maureen Duffy:

‘Maureen Duffy is one of the few British writers of fiction of real class’ Financial Times

‘An experienced, prolific novelist; nothing she writes can fail.’ Daily Telegraph

‘Maureen Duffy is one of Britain’s foremost writers.’ Guardian

About the Author

A prolific poet and playwright, Maureen Duffy published her first novel, That’s How It Was, in 1962. She is the author of the Londoners Trilogy and has written biographies of Purcell and Aphra Behn.

Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-constructed, readable, enjoyable 17 May 2010
A good Maureen Duffy novel. Better than Restitution or Occam's Razor, not as good as Capital - Wounds - Changes (but then very few novels are). The heroine is a London lesbian biker solicitor who finds an unfair dismissal case turning into an investigation of a cult and bound up with the story of a lesbian alchemist accused of witchcraft in 1603 (Duffy seems well up in the background). A third strain is the heroine's past love affair, and the 3 are well handled together to maintain interest in each.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mysterious Magic 9 Jan 2008
I love reading, so it is not hard for me to be engrossed in a good book. And this was no exception. I found myself longing to be reading it when i wasn't and swept away with a tale of intrigue.
The book is written in, seemingly, a common trend of past/present - so has two main heroines, who's stories, whilst not directly interlinked, or mirroring each other, have similiarities.. Although the way Duffy ends the character from the pasts story is abit cheap!
I read the book around the same time as The Thirteenth Tale and The Savage Garden, and all three were in a very similar easy to read style.
Perfect for snuggling up away from the bad weather in front of the fire!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor Read 9 Jun 2010
By K. Hope
I was really disappointed by this book after reading the reviews. I found it difficult to read, lengthy and padded out, very little about alchemy and to be honest quite boring. Alchemy
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars There was a great book in here, struggling to get out... 15 Oct 2005
By LBM - Published on
...past the strangely lethargic modern and Tudor heroines. What could've been two absorbing stories are dragged down by the primary characters, who never seem to progress to maturity, self-insight, nor motivation to take charge of their own lives. Their shared static quality holds back the momentum of the entire book.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 17th century glass ceiling 8 Sep 2006
By Beverley Strong - Published on
Solicitor, Jade Green, accepts a case from a former lecturer at a small, private university from which he was sacked for going against the religious tenets of the Dean. The Professor feels that there was more to his sacking than meets the eye and that greed and corruption are more likely to be the answer than any invented reasons. He has a 17th century manuscript which purports to be that of a young trainee physician who impersonates a man because of the distrust of women in any other role than that of the traditional wife and mother. Jade's story and that of her 17th century counterpart, runs along parallel lines, with both yong women showing decided leanings towards lesbianism, although the story doesn't go into any great detail about their sex lives. The recipes, or receipts as they are called in earlier times, are fascinating and lead one to wonder whether they killed more than they cured, and the utter helplessness of women in those times was apalling when it only took the word of a man, any man, to condemn them out of hand to a life in jail or worse. I have long given up any romantic ideas about living in earlier times, and am only too grateful to be here in the 21st century.
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