Viper Wine by Hermione Eyre
Viper Wine is set in 17th century Britain and revolves around the relationship of Kenelm and Venetia Digby, their love for each other and the individual obsessions that destroy their love. For Sir Kenelm, alchemy and the quest for knowledge become his hamartia while Lady Digby’s fatal flaws are youth and beauty.
Ms. Eyre does a masterful job of exploring Venetia’s vanities and her dependence on viper wine to maintain her beauty. And lest the reader feel too superior, the author juxtaposes Venetia’s foolishness with our own society’s youth and beauty obsessions resulting in everything from fad diets to breast enhancement to liposuction. However, in exploring Sir Kenelm’s folly, the author misses the mark. Kenelm is a bit too disconnected from the narrative and his own life for the reader to fully vest in him. And the brain messages he receives are often jarring to the narrative flow of the text.
Despite this, the writing itself is usually clean and lovely. I felt like with a bit more editing, particularly in the last quarter, this novel could have been a more fluid and engaging read.
N.B. I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.