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



Weekly Wrap Up : 16th June 2019

Hello again everyone.  Hope you’ve had a good week.  The weather has been absolutely horrible but the silver lining of bad weather is more reading.  I’ve read three books this week and I have to confess I’m on a role – three really great reads.  Limited Wish – the second instalment of Mark Lawrence’s time travelling sci fi which is a lot of fun and totally mind bending in a great way (how is that not a contradiction?).  The 10th instalment of the Mercy Thompson series which I really enjoyed and really shook things up and finally The Corset by Laura Purcell – which absolutely blew me away – I loved it.  In other news SPFBO5 is now live – and has already received over 250 entrants – in fact the tally as this post goes live is 264.  Looks like there’s some strong competition and I’m looking forward to seeing which books and authors are in my group.  So, here’s what I’ve been reading:

My books:

  1. Limited Wish by Mark Lawrence – 4.5 stars
  2. Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs – 4 stars
  3. The Corset by Laura Purcell – 5 stars

Next scheduled reads:

  1. The Whisper Man by Alex North
  2. Nocturna by Maya Motayne
  3. Across the Void by SK Vaughn

Upcoming reviews

  1. King of the Road by RS Belcher
  2. Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs
  3. The Fall by Tracy Townsend
  4. Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs
  5. The Corset by Laura Purcell

I’d love to know what you’re reading this week.