The Alchemist's Daughter Paperback – 6 Sep 2006
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"Perfectly timed and modulated not only to draw us in and wring us out but also to reveal the spirit of a time." --"The Boston Globe" "Rich in period detail, this historical novel has all the right trappings." --"Daily News" "Beautifully crafted . . . lavishly furnished with period details and intriguing characters." --Diana Gabaldon, "New York Times" bestselling author of "A Breath of Snow and Ashes", "The Washington Post" "Evocative, compelling, and beautifully written . . . explosive secrets abound not only in the mysterious alchemy laboratory and in sprawling, seething London during the Age of Reason--but also in the heroine's heart." --Karen Harper, "USA Today" bestselling author of "The Last Boleyn"
A classic, page-turning story of secrets and science, passion and betrayal, innocence and experience - in the tradition of Tracy Chevalier and Philippa GregorySee all Product description
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The rest of the story is about Emilie's voyage of discovery. Who is she? What is her past? Who is her husband? Her life unravels, as does that of her tenants, as does her tender relationship with the local priest, whom she quickly realises ought to have been the love of her life. The loss of her child makes her slightly mad. She turns to alchemy in a desperate attempt to restore the world as it once was.
This is a brilliant story, as I've already said. It's a very moving story, seeing Emilie struggle to come to terms with the loss of her child. It's a story that makes you mad, seeing her vain, flighty husband destroy so many lives while she is powerless to stop him, and it makes you frustrated too, because McMahon keeps Emilie true to her upbringing. There is no lion emerging from the frail feminine vessel, she doesn't roll her sleeves up and fight patriarchal power on its own terms - she turns to the one weapon she has, alchemy, and reading this is even harder, because of course we know it's not a weapon at all. Or is it? I turned the last page with a smile on my face, expecting an ending, only to discover that was the ending. It couldn't have been any other way - or it could have, but that would have been a cop out - and though I was gutted that the book had come to an end, it is that rare thing, a brilliant book with a brilliant ending.