Saturday, November 13, 2010


I found this book quite but chance at the library. The title and cover intrigued me, so I gave it a go.

The two main character's are sister's, Alice and Lillian. The story opens with Lillian married to a missionary and sent off to India after a scandalous event. Alice remains at home with her father and numerous widow Aunts. To be honest I still haven't figured out how many there were.

The year is 1851 and in Victorian England, experiments, photography and the Empire are what concern most men, and Alice and Lillian's father is no different. He has amassed a huge collection of artifacts, both artistic and scientific from every nation and every era in history. There are twelve grandfather clocks at the bottom of the stairs and of course they chime in perfect unison. The conservatory is overgrown with every plant imaginable and it is quite normal to share a room with a nine foot stuffed grizzly, an electroplated statue of venus and a machine for peeling sixty apples simultaneously.

Both amusing and horrifying, the story moves between Victorian hypocrisy in England and the exotic yet brutal life in India. From the artificial limb that fires a pistol, to the flying machine catapulted from a huge rubber band, and from the Society for the Propagation of Useful and Interesting Knowledge to the vegetable growing Maharajah of Bhandarapur, this story pulls you along at a dizzying pace until the final climactic end.  


  1. It does sound both amusing and horrifying. The apple machine fascinates me, probably because I'm in the middle of baking a cake with apples in it.

    Ooh. I see you're reading To Kill A Mocking Bird. I'm dying to read it too. Enjoy.

  2. Joanne - I am enjoying Mockingbird. I don't want to put it down!