Viper Wine (Hardback)
  • Viper Wine (Hardback)
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Viper Wine (Hardback)

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£14.99
Hardback 448 Pages / Published: 13/03/2014
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This book is 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 dour Puritan community, and into the Countess of Arundel's snail closet. We see a lost Rubens altarpiece and peer into Venetia's black-wet obsidian scrying mirror. Based on real events, Viper Wine is 1632 rendered in Pop Art prose; a place to find alchemy, David Bowie, recipes for seventeenth-century beauty potions, a Borgesian unfinished library and a submarine that sails beneath the Thames.

Publisher: Vintage Publishing
ISBN: 9780224097598
Number of pages: 448
Weight: 680 g
Dimensions: 219 x 146 x 39 mm

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“Confusing at times but a solid basis.”

This is rather a confusing book to read and I am deeply torn about how I feel about it. It works really well as a historical novel looking at the lives of a pair of uniquely fascinating 17th century characters.... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 63

“Kooky ”

I really enjoyed this kooky tale of a lady's search for beauty in the 17th century. It tells of her being seduced by the power of a potion called 'Viper Wine' with plenty of modern day comparisons to... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 46

“All just a little bit of history repeating”

Playful, lavish and smart as hell, Viper Wine is unlike anything I've read before. The basic premise: Sir Kenelm Digby, who chases new scientific theories like a kitten after a ribbon, is married to Venetia... More

Paperback edition
Helpful? Upvote 45

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