Rated 5 stars
A story of loss, love, and redemption set in 18th-century London.
Edinburgh surgeon James Sinclair and Captain Frank Greenwood of the Bengal Army are washed up on the Dorset coast in January 1786 when their ship sinks in a storm. With everything they own at the bottom of the sea, including Sinclair’s precious books James and Frank return to London.
Recent widow, Charlotte Leadam is on her way back to London from Yorkshire; her husband is dead and she is now at the mercy of her husband’s creditors and her ambitious mother.
A chance meeting brings Charlotte and James together but they take an instant dislike to each other. In desperate straits, Charlotte realises they can help each other.
Sinclair moves into the apothecary shop and for a while, all seems well. Living in the attic rooms over the shop their feelings for one another grow until Iona McNeal, Sinclair’s first love appears on the scene and he loses Charlotte’s love. With his hopes of a relationship with Charlotte dashed Sinclair reaches his lowest ebb. He descends into melancholy and drink. He wants to reclaim Charlotte’s love but he does not know how.
The opportunity to redeem himself occurs when Charlotte’s niece is in danger but Charlotte is so angry with him she cannot acknowledge that he has saved her family from disgrace.
The moment of catharsis comes when Sinclair is injured and Charlotte comes to his aid but he still has to sort out the results of his disastrous relationship with Iona before they can be truly happy.
The politics of class and poverty in 18th century London are vividly described in this story of ambition, love, and betrayal. The period is beautifully brought to life through Julia’ detailed research and fast-moving storytelling.
The history of medicine is told hand in hand with a story of love, sexual desire and emotional betrayal in London, Yorkshire, and Edinburgh.
Sinclair is a great read for Book Groups
Books by Julia Herdman are available on Amazon worldwide as an e-book, on Kindle, and in paperback.
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As a debut novel, Sinclair boasts the musical language of a practiced craftsman. The characters are vibrant, each man and woman is lovely but terribly complex. Although it is fiction, the struggles of the human heart are illustrated with great care. James Sinclair is driven by his need for acclaim, only to discover that the love of a good woman suits him fine. Charlotte Leadam is a hard-headed widow, sure she will never love again, only to discover that she has the heart for new romance. The sinking of the Sherwell, a ship from the East India Company’s fleet, sets off a tale about the human capacity to make mistakes, to love the wrong people, and to ultimately find forgiveness in seemingly impossible circumstances.