September 13, 2008

The Vanishing Point

This is the first book I have read by Mary Sharratt, and it won't be the last if her other books are as good as this one.

The Vanishing Point begins in the late 1600's in England. It's the story of two sisters, May and Hannah, who are extremely close growing up, but are separated when their father sends the older sister, May, off to Maryland to be married to the son of a distant cousin. Three years later Hannah sets off to the Colonies to join her sister. Yet when she arrives she discovers that her sister had died in childbirth, and her husband living the life of a hermit, with only his dogs for companionship.

With nowhere else to go, and no family to speak of, Hannah stays with her widowed brother-in-law and against her better judgment falls in love with him. But as the months go on, Hannah begins to question her sister's death and finds no easy answers. As Hannah learns more and more of her sister's life on the plantation, the more she begins to question her love for her brother-in-law. She loves the way he makes her feel, but hates what he did to her sister.

Eventually, however, Hannah discovers something and is forced to make a choice that will affect them both for the rest of their lives.

I really enjoyed this novel. Mary Sharratt is a wonderful writer, mixing mystery, romance (sex scenes included), and history together into a gripping novel that I had a hard time putting down. You see what the characters see and feel what they feel. You end up truly caring for all the characters.

Throughout the novel it is evident she spent many years researching the historical aspects of the life in 17th century England and the Colonies. I really enjoyed the ways she wove 17th-century language, medicine (the physick), herbal remedies (did you know that women back then used honey as a contraceptive?), cooking (from skinning the animals to frying up the meat in the pan), and folklore (faeries and glamoury eyes) into the story. I loved all the gritty details.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading historical fiction.

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