The Alchemist's Daughter - Katharine McMahon

The Alchemist's Daughter

By Katharine McMahon

  • Release Date: 2006-01-31
  • Genre: Historical
4 Score: 4 (From 13 Ratings)
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Secrets abound in this gripping tale of a young woman cloistered since birth who discovers that knowledge is no subsitute for experience when she choses to follow her heart over science.

Raised by her father in near isolation in the English countryside, Emilie Selden is trained as a brilliant natural philosopher and alchemist. In the spring of 1725, during the English Age of Reason, father and daughter embark upon their most daring alchemical experiment to date—attempting to breathe life into dead matter. But when Emilie—against her father’s wishes—experiences the passion of first love, she decides to listen to her heart over her head. Banished to London and plunged headlong into a society that is both glamorous and ruthless, Emilie discovers that for all her extraordinary education she has no insight into the workings of the human heart. When she tries to return to the world of books and study, she instead unravels a shocking secret that sets her on her true journey to enlightenment.


  • , this story that was hard to put down, and sure to appeal to fans of historic fiction.

    By glhince
    I’m obsessed with all things historical, and the Tudors have to be close to the top of that list. Mary Lawrence has introduced a new series, Bianca Goddard Mysteries, set near the end of Henry’s reign. The Alchemist’s Daughter is the story of Bianca, living hand to mouth in the lower rungs of society, making her living with potions and remedies. While her skills are solid, her position in society is tenuous, increasingly so after the death of her friend Jolyn in her apartment after being treated for a stomach ailment. Bianca must find the true cause of Jolyn’s death, and as she searches, we are treated to descriptions and details of the London of the time, with the lack of sanitation, bathing, wealth and an overabundance of rats. While the mystery was fairly clear-cut, Lawrence uses historical detail and language to transport the reader TO the time. This allows readers to savor the story and find the music in the language, and I did savor every moment. Inclusions of customs, superstitions and the underbelly of society the period details are rich and varied. The Rat collector, accusations of witchcraft, and the general sense of mistrust of the strong and independent woman that is Bianca. All these details add background without overloading the reader with unnecessary detail, the feel of the day is incorporated without fanfare or notice. Truly a cozier murder mystery given depth by the lovely character build for Bianca and the rhythm that comes from the language choice, this story that was hard to put down, and sure to appeal to fans of historic fiction. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.