Katharine McMahon is an excellent example of the problem I have with modern writers In reading or listening to, in this case her book I found I was transported through the ailes of a book store One moment I was reading something out of historical fiction, then scientific theory, and then a trashy romance novel..and there lies my problem I wish modern authors had enough imagination as to address sex scenes as they did, in this case, the 1700 s I don t mind sex in a book when I can see the necessity of it as it pertains to the story, and it doesn t detract This was not accomplished in this book Is she unfamiliar with Jane Austen or even Tom Jones by Henry Fielding Do I need every sordid detail of what Wickham does to Lydia after they run off together No, I have enough imagination and life expierence to tell me what they are up to and that information does nothing to move the story along Tom Jones sleeps with every woman he meets and still the reader isn t subjected to pages of description Though I can see the role sex has in this book, as the main character discovers the world and passions she has never been familiar with, how she is manipulated and controlled by her husband, and eventually realizes she isn t loved, but I do believe Katharine McMahon would be hard pressed to justify all of the details she has put into her book As I heard the lines..and that was the last time I slept with my husband..I thought finally I will now step off my soap box The story itself was fairly good, but I did have a hard time believing any of the characters I didn t find any of them possessed with real emotion and I couldn t feel for them in any way There was enough mystery, however, that I did want to finish so I could find it all out I was not dissapointed in the ending eventhough is leaves a lot of questions unanswered It was a tale of coming full circle As far as recommending this book, I wouldn t There are plenty of better written books that explore similar themes and storylines and I would seek those out instead. It is rare for me to say this about a book, but I did not like this book It was disappointing and not at all satisfying I m not sure what I expected, perhaps for it to be a bitlike the conservative, 19th century England of Austen novels, which it wasn t It was well written and seemingly well researched, but the characters were dull and the plot was dumb I didn t like the storyline at all I really thought it would grow on me or even get better as it progressed, but it never did The scientific dialogue goes over the reader s head, unless one happens to be an expert in 18th century alchemy and scientific principles of the time Um, not so much I got the distinct impression that the author was really impressed with herself for everything she wrote about those topics, but her time would have been much better spent developing a better storyline and deeper characters I do not recommend this book to anyone.SPOILER ALERT From the first moment Aislabie is introduced, I didn t trust him for a second and I was unfortunately proven right What a jerk And what s really annoying is that Emilie can t do anything about it, which is probably not unrealistic for the time period, she was her husband s possession Still, it was aggravating I guess the best part of the whole book was when it ended Literally, like the last few pages The author gives the impression that Aislabie dies at sea and Emilie ends up with Reverend Shales, who she should have been with all along, and they raise Aurelie together An interesting twist, considering neither of them is her biological parent, but somehow that was the most satisfying part of the book. I just didn t really get into this book but trudged my way through hoping it would get interesting It sounded interesting beautiful, intelligent Emilie, raised in seclusion by her father to be an alchemist and natural philosopher is swept off her feet by the first handsome man she sees and exiled to London where she begins her shocking journey to enlightenment However, it did not live up to the blurb Emilie s character was flat and boring and she seemed to spend most of the novel wandering around in a blinkered trance feeling sorry for herself The romance was soon over once she found out her handsome lover was only after her money and property The secret of Emilie s mother wasn t all that interesting and a bit of a let down Even the alchemy wasn t very interesting as Emilie tries to bring a dead rose back to life by a process she seems to have no great passion for The ending is somewhat expected and inevitable So sorry, but thumbs down from me I have read a LOT of negative reviews about this book and I really don t get it I must have horrible taste then, because I absolutely LOVED it Written on Feb 24, 2009 at 09 29PM Read the Dutch translation. I read halfway through this book one evening, but then it didn t seem worth finishing The plot description made it sound like an intelligent book about an intelligent woman living learning at the time of Isaac Newton But the book wasn t smart and neither was the main character The author latched onto one concept in alchemy and just repeats it so the character can impress everyone she meets rather than giving any additional insight into the philosophies and views of the time In fact, the book seemed to be some genre I might describe as woman recovers from youthful bodice ripping incident to become independent modern woman Is that a real genre If so, I m not interested. This book was a cross between literary fiction and bodice ripper romance Katharine McMahon seems to be sitting over the fence, not quite sure what kind of book she wanted to write She put her heroine in a similar position Emilie is not quite sure if she prefers to sit in the lab and peform physical and chemical experiments or if she would rather have that dashing young man grab her and take her, take her like there is no tomorrow This weird combination worked surprisingly well but must have given McMahon s publisher a bit of a headache.It s not clean cut enough for the publishing world maybe, but isn t it true We can all be very smart and sophisticated and suddenly, unexplicably we fall for a guy who has a peanut for brain and we don t seem to care Im our heads we go from literary fiction to bodice rippers in no time.I was a little put off by the title because it reminded me of that wretched The Alchemist book by Paulo Coelho The apple doesn t fall far from the tree, I thought, like father, like daughter Thankfully, inside I found a rather beautifully written, slowly paced novel that brings the 18th century England to life with all its colours, smells and sounds It s very introspective too but in a humble, girly way rather than a self absorbed one Some reviewers seem to think that the book would better off without the many sex scenes I disagree That was the substance of Emilie and Aislabie s relationship and they were essential to our understanding of that peculiar grip Aislabie held on Emilie And they were not badly written either that is, they didn t make me laugh, which is an achievement.To summarise, The Alchemist s Daughter is a book about science and about love, about the errors of judgement, and about accepting defeat It is pretty much the same for both, love and science It s chick lit with a smart twist, I would say. A good read nice gothic feel to it, though I felt that it built to something that never really arrived. During The English Age Of Reason, A Woman Cloistered Since Birth Learns That Knowledge Is No Substitute For ExperienceRaised 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 , 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 Is Banished To London, Where She Soon Discovers She Knows Nothing About Human Nature, Or Her Own Family S Complicated Past So Begins Her Shocking Journey To Enlightenment Also Available As A Random House Large Print Edition And As An EBook It s strange the way some stories don t get to you This one had everything I should love in a novel an evocative setting, a smart heroine, an exploration of a father daughter relationship, a touch of mystery, and of course, some romance But there s something that didn t click Maybe the lack of elegance in the prose, maybe the intented to be well researched long descriptions of scientific experiments but I found I didn t care a bit about Emily s fate or about the outcome of the story The characters were unidimensional and not well crafted, the father, an obsessed man, the daughter, too na ve to be believable, the husband a cheater, the reverend a too much well hearted man, who, by the way, appears and disappears from the story when the author thinks suitable and the maid, a poor sinner Besides, I found the story regarding Emily s mother too far fetched and with too many coincidences And unlike some reviews below, I think there are no loose ends The book has a forced happy ending, maybe a predictable and not well worked one though, but it has a conclusion that leaves no doubt All in all I wouldn t be recommending this book, don t lose your time when there are great books to be read as Du Maurier s or the Bront s. Another really good book I love historical fiction The main character, Emilie, drove me crazy at some points because she made such bad, crazy decisions But I had to remind myself that it was the time period she was growing up in and also that she had lived a very sheltered life, which could definitely happen in that time period I did enjoy the story though and it was based on real situations, Sir Issac Newton was in the book a lot as well as others that I probably had not heard of So, it was a good read and enjoyable Would definitely recommend.
The Rose of Sebastopol, which was a Richard and Judy pick for 2007 The Crimson Rooms and The Alchemist s Daughter.Her latest book, The Hour of Separation, is our in paperback on 22nd August Her fiction is based on the lives of extraordinary women She loves to explore how women in the past but with a contemporary slant The Hour of Separation tells the story of a complex friendship played out against a backdrop of resistance and betrayal in two world wars.
- 311 pages
- The Alchemist's Daughter
- Katharine McMahon
- 21 February 2019 Katharine McMahon