Published By: Pan Macmillan
Released On: 27/04/2023
“In the end, it did not matter what I said at my trial. No one believed me.”
Edinburgh, October 1679. Lady Christian Nimmo is arrested and charged with the murder of her lover, James Forrester. News of her imprisonment and subsequent trial is splashed across the broadsides, with headlines that leave little room for doubt: Adulteress. Whore. Murderess.
Only a year before, Christian was leading a life of privilege and respectability. So, what led her to risk everything for an affair? And does that make her guilty of murder? She wasn’t the only woman in Forrester’s life, and certainly not the only one who might have had cause to wish him dead . . .
Thanks to NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.
If this book is anything to go by, I can’t wait for what else Kate Foster writes in the coming years.
Stories of large manor houses with high-class young women who don’t want to conform to the norm and end up wronged by a high-class man have been ten to the penny over the last few years. It seems it is a trope that isn’t doing anywhere and I’m not sad about that. When done well, it’s done very well, and I can say that Kate has done well with this story.
I like the narrative being spread over two time periods. I’d say for the first 2/3, bar the odd flashforward, most of the action is taking place the year prior to the crime. It gives you a tantalising look at the crime, but with the background information to keep you informed. And then the final part is more about after the crime.
I must say I preferred the scenes after the crime, the trial and whatnot. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the past scenes very much, but the other scenes felt a bit juicier, a bit more explosive, and made for a really interesting read.
Everything is described so visually, you can see the scenes playing out in your head. From clothing to injury, from food to the love scenes. It is so beautifully done.
It’s a lot more explicit, more forward than I expected from a book set in the 1600s, which was a nice change. It’s funny to think of these prim and proper people experiencing the same desires we do now, but there’s no reason not to.
I enjoyed the exploration of class. Should a high-class woman be believed because of her status? Is a serving girl automatically disregarded because of her position? It’s horrible to think there was this prejudice but it’s clear to see. A lady, a prostitute and a maid – who would you believe?
There are a number of characters but I would say there are a few key players. Obviously we have Lady Christian, our main protagonist. A lady of class but loose morals. I liked her right from the start. She was clever and she wanted what the men had. Violet, the prostitute, the one we should look down on. She wants to be loved and protected but she’s also clever. Then Oriana, the maid. A bit surly, a bit mixed up, but hiding a big secret. They are our three main characters.
Then you have Andrew, quiet, unassuming, a kind and gentle soul mixed up in something bigger than him. And James. A nasty piece of work, proud to be in his position, proud to be able to take everything he wants.
Whilst these were my initial thoughts, each character had great development and were expertly written. No-one is perfect. No-one is flawed completely. There are heroes and villains but they’re all so human that they have good and bad within them (some have more bad than others).
I love it when a book is inspired by a true story. It’s hard to believe something like this was happening, but it makes it all the more fascinating and makes you want to find out more.
I think Kate has done a great job as it’s showing the spotlight on historical female people. They’re so often shoved to the sidelines, as a footnote in men’s stories. That’s not to say Lady Christian or anyone else deserve to be idolised (I don’t know the real truth of the matter), but I think no matter who they were or what they did or didn’t do, their stories deserve to be told. Here’s to many more.
It is a compelling, gripping story. And whilst there are slower moments and more frenzied moments, you are hooked from the start to the very end.