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All art is unstable. It's meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author, There is no authorative active voice. There are only multiple readings. David Bowie, 1995

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

...masterly intelligent romance!

1877. Hooked by the opening, a rowing competition between major arch rivals Cambridge and Oxford where we meet the delicious yet dangerous Edward Clark and the vibrant Federica Marshall, I was pulled in even further by the opening interplay (of sorts) between Edward and this interesting woman dressed quite severely, in a mannish jacket with epaulets, wearing a bowler hat and exhibiting a jaunty freedom. Edward has left his beloved Toulouse to return to England. We have no clue as to why the story starts here, on the banks of the Thames at a rowing competition, and whither it is going, except that by the title, and now the description of this interesting young woman, that it somehow involves suffragettes.     
The novel's brilliant! I loved it after the first page and was well and truly ensconced by the end of the first chapter.
There's betrayal and friendship, intrigue and blackmail, and of course a romance that cannot be. We have a younger brother James, a nasty piece of work, coveting all that his older brother has and who cannot endure slights to his person. We have friendships that endure. There's masterly repartee between our two main characters, Free (Frederica) Marshall and Edward Clark.
Along the way are gathered in some of the 'Brothers Sinister.'
Free and Edward are wonderful together.  Their talk about punctuation is just so witty and clever! Free, with an interesting circle of friends runs a woman's press challenging the place of women. Edward is an adventurer, an artist and a man with a shadowed and past.
Humour, dastardly doings and romance! All great elements for an excellent read.
The plot drew me on down unexpected avenues with the tension being held right to the end.

A NetGalley ARC

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