Tuesday, March 24, 2015
THE ALCHEMIST'S DAUGHTER by Mary Lawrence
THE ALCHEMIST’S DAUGHTER
Bianca Goddard is the Alchemist’s daughter. This has both negative and positive consequences for her. It is a negative for Bianca, as her father had been accused of plotting to poison King Henry VIII; it is a positive for her because of all she had learned from her father and his alchemical pursuits. Combining the devotion and methodology that she learned from her father with the knowledge of herbs that she acquired from her mother, Bianca opened her “room of Medicinals and Physickes” and was becoming well known for healing salves.
But when Bianca’s best friend, Jolyn, comes to visit and dies in Bianca’s room, she is unable to save her despite all her healing knowledge. Because of the negatives associated with being the Alchemist’s daughter, Bianca knows it is only a matter of time before the constable arrests her for Jolyn’s death. She uses that short time to determine who killed Jolyn and why.
The Alchemist’s Daughter is a historical mystery situated in 1543 Tudor England. The mystery portion of this novel is interesting. Although the plot is not especially complex or convoluted, there are enough twists and turns to hold one’s attention.
The historical portion of the novel, however, is another story. I have read quite a bit about the times of Henry VIII. But, as I read The Alchemist’s Daughter, I realized that everything that I have read about that time period focuses on royalty or nobility. I believe that this is the first book about Tudor England that I have read that is told from the point of view of the “ordinary person” (even though Bianca is anything but “ordinary”). The historical picture that emerges from The Alchemist’s Daughter is entirely new to me. Although at times it repulsed me, I found this new perspective to be fascinating.
Bianca Goddard is an unusual, intelligent, and refreshing young protagonist. I can foresee her being surrounded by and solving many mysteries. My hope is that Lawrence also sees this trait in Bianca and that she continues to share Bianca’s adventures with us for a long time. I look forward to reading and learning about each and every one of them.