The Corset by Laura Purcell

Posted On 4 July 2019

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The Corset is also known as The Poison Thread and it has two completely different covers.  I’ve posted both because I don’t know which one you’ll all be more familiar with.

This is a book that I absolutely loved.  In fact I cannot give this book enough love and it’s highly unlikely that I’ll be able to do it justice with this review because even now, a few days after putting the book down, my mind is awhirl with thoughts.  To be honest when I picked this up I expected it to be good, I’d read The Silent Companions already which was so deliciously creepy and gothic that I was hungry for more – so, no pressure there then.  But, what I didn’t expect was this to exceed my expectations and that’s what makes this such a pleasant surprise.  Of course, when you read a really good book, written by a new to you author, you want to rush out and buy everything that the author produces – of course you do, why wouldn’t you after all.  Finding a good book is such a wonderful feeling and one that you want to experience over and over again – it’s an addiction that pushes readers like me to devour books in search of the next ‘best’ read.  But, let’s be honest, there’s a little annoying mind worm that also makes you want to hold back, that fear that this next book might not live up to its predecessor.  You might be disappointed and your golden glow will dissolve.  Well, fear not – as Buzz Lightyear once said ‘Not today’.  This isn’t the book to kill that glow, in fact, it’s the book that adds rainbows and unicorns to your already sparkly glowing sheen.  Have I intrigued you?  I hope so.  I want everyone to read Laura Purcell.  She’s definitely a keeper.  Okay, to the review then.

Beautifully written and positively oozing with atmosphere this is a story that brings with it two stunning and absolutely wonderful to read characters.  Dorothea Truelove is a wealthy young woman, maybe a little bit pretentious, perhaps a little naive in some ways and possibly a little pleased with herself in others.  As I started the story I expected her voice to be my least favourite and even to be the weaker of the two – the POV that I resented just a little bit every time I had to swap, but the one I put up with in order to get to the next chapters.  How very wrong I was.  Dorothea’s story is positively fascinating to read – of course you expect the other storyline to be more gripping and it certainly does pull you in a heck of a lot faster – but be patient with Dorothea, she has her own story that just needs teasing out and it’s one that becomes positively compelling.

Ruth Butterham is convicted of murder, in prison awaiting her execution.  She is visited in prison by Dorothea who has taken up visiting prisoners at Oakgate Prison as part of her charitable endeavours.  Dorothea has a keen interest in phrenology, the study of skulls, and is positively bristling with the thoughts of being able to study Ruth and test out her theories.  Ruth has led a very different life to Dorothea.  Her’s is a story beset with unhappy events starting as early as her unhappy school days where she was bullied quite mercilessly.  But for the grace of God, not to mention a rather rash choice of husband on the part of her mother, Ruth could have shared a similar lifestyle to Dorothea but unfortunately that wasn’t to be the case.  Her mother was disinherited, her husband quickly became more enamoured by the bottle than by his wife and daughter and their lives lurched from poor decision to bad luck to unhappy disaster until their family life was ruined.

The absolutely wonderful thing about these two characters is the parallels that they share – so many in fact that I’m even now being surprised at the author’s ingenuity.  I don’t want to spoil anything though so I’m going to leave that thought there for you to ponder on.  And, in fact, that’s the real issue I have in writing this review.  I desperately want to tell you everything but at the same time there’s a very real possibility of giving too much away.  So, I’m going to have to go for a review that will be much more of a teaser.

Basically, this is a gothic style novel, the writing is captivating and the setting is expertly rendered.  Purcell manages to recreate the Victorian period with an almost casual ease that requires very little effort on the part of the reader in order to become totally immersed.  As the book sets out we meet Dorothea and, as mentioned, it feels like her story is going to be slow (although that impression is soon blown out of the water).  Ruth then starts to tell her story – the story of a young woman that is very difficult to read.  She has experienced such sorrows and hardships that you can’t help feeling for her.  Ruth has a fantastic narrative voice that pulled me into her tale immediately.  She believes so passionately in her story that it’s difficult not to fall under her spell.  Is she a murderer or is she unwittingly causing bad things to happen by the power of her own stitching.  Are her thoughts being entwined in the threads and materials as she sews?  Or is she delusional?

I don’t think I can say more without giving too much away and spoiling the read.  Ruth’s unhappy story is gripping to read and like Dorothea I became totally obsessed with reading it and discovering just how very gullible she really was.  Likewise, Dorothea’s story becomes utterly compelling and twists into something that I simply didn’t envision.

This is a great read and one that I have no hesitation in recommending.  I would give this a very strong 5 out of 5 and I would actually rate it even higher if that was possible.

Great writing, characters that will grip you and a very clever plot that keeps the pages turning fast.  An absolute stunner with a brilliant ending.

Where I received a copy: bought.  Opinions are my own.

Rating 5 of 5 wonderful stars



17 Responses to “The Corset by Laura Purcell”

  1. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    What an intriguing review! The necessity of keeping away from spoiler territory makes this a very captivating teaser – and I love the blue cover with the peacock feather 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yes, and two very different covers for the UK and US – and in fact different titles. Such a good book though – absolutely captivating.Lynn 😀

  2. Tammy

    I’m even more excited to read this now! I bought a copy from the Book Depository months ago, since I didn’t think I could wait for the US version to come out, but I still haven’t read it! Must. Read. Soon😁

    • @lynnsbooks

      I bought my copy a while ago then caught Mogsy’s review and just had to go there – and it’s so worth it.
      Lynn 😀

  3. bkfrgr

    I’m super glad to hear you enjoyed this as much as your did Silent Companions. I am currently thrusting copies of SC at any library customer who asks me for a recommendation. I can’t wait to read this too. 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      OMG – I think this was maybe even better. Prepare yourself, this is just absolutely captivating. Great narrative voices and well, can’t put downness.
      Lynn 😀

      • bkfrgr

        Possibly the best recommendation a book can get! It came into the library for me today – I pick it up tomorrow! 😀

      • @lynnsbooks

        Yes! I hope you love it – I thoroughly enjoyed it and can’t wait to pick up the next book by Purcell. Now I’m all anxious in case you don’t like it – eek.
        Lynn 😀

  4. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I felt the same way after finishing this! So many feelings and thoughts that I didn’t know how to put into words, and in a way that wouldn’t spoil anything! You are right about all the parallels, I was on extra alert for those after my experience with The Silent Companions and I’m just in awe how she planted seeds here and there and managed to bring them all together.

    • @lynnsbooks

      I could literally read both these books again, I loved them so much. Where has LP been hiding all this time!!
      Lynn 😀

  5. waytoofantasy

    Well, looks like I’ll just have to read this one then. Onto the list it goes!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I am absolutely loving this author, really, seriously, I can’t get enough of her.
      Lynn 😀

  6. jessicabookworm

    Lynn, I have yet to read anything by Laura Purcell, but reading this makes me think I need to bump up my wish list! 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      Jessica, I think I can say, with absolute confidence – that you will love Laura Purcell. You’re one of my blogger friends that I immediately thought of when reading her books.
      Lynn 😀

  7. TTT – Favourite Fictional Characters from 2019 | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] Butterham from The Corset by Laura Purcell.  I’ve read two of Laura Purcell’s books so far and they have both […]

  8. TTT : ‘Go to’ Authors | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] absolutely loved the two books I’ve read by her so far – The Silent Companions and The Corset (or Poison Thread).  I can’t wait to read her next book Bone […]

  9. Best of the Best list : 2019 | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] The Corset by Laura Purcell […]

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