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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Review Christie Phillips - the Devlin Diary

I came across a review of this book and was entranced. Historical fiction of a period I enjoy and mystery murders a half dozen of them. Plus strong women - which was unusual for the time. I was just lucky that one of the libraries in the system had this book as it was not available at Carnegie.

London and Paris - the time is 1672 and then Cambridge 2008. The story is written in these time frames with the Cambridge period unravelling the story of centuries before. A new fellow at Cambridge - a young American woman tries to solve the unsolved murder of a senior fellow. Someone she has accused of not just copying what she wanted to publish but also someone whom she slapped in public. The same night he is found dead. Unravelling the story Claire goes back to the period of 1672 both in London and Paris at the turbulent time of Charles II.

1672 London - we have Hannah a physick (rare for a woman to be involved int he field of medicine) and apart from her medical knowledge Hannah has intelligence and wit and soon uncovers the plot behind two murders of courtiers of the King's own circle and it is this knowledge that brings her into personal danger.

The story is one where the characters of Claire - the Cambridge fellow and Hannah the physick of earlier London are inter-twined. Through the diaries left behind by Hannah the story is able to be deciphered and made public. The book was one of those which you cannot put down as you always want to know what is going to happen next. Hannah was indeed a character whom one could empathize with and Claire was another who was bewildered by the archaic values of academia in Cambridge.

I think that this would be a wonderful book for a book club because at the end of it , I myself would have loved to have sat down with a group and had a discussion on this. The book left me with a sense of satisfaction at the end - true love prevails, justice is meted out and Hannah lives happily ever after.

A very satisfying read.


  1. I notice that books with parallel past/current storylines tend to either really go wrong or really work for me. Hopefully the latter will happen here :P

  2. Sounds fantastic and thanks for mentioning that it would be good for a book club - our book club is on the look out for new books!


  3. I love historical mysteries, where they are set in that period or with parallel timelines. I think I read a review of this somewhere as well as it's on my wishlist. Glad you liked it!

  4. This sounds really good. I hadn't heard of this book until now.

  5. Oh, I do love good book recommendations!!
    This one sounds so interesting. Thank you for sharing!

  6. I think it was the parallel story lines that added so much interest. I kept whizzing between them!!! Thanks for the lovely comments

  7. hi mystica! i absolultely loved this book--love hannah and claire too. great book. i'm glad you enjoyed it too.

    thanks for stopping by our blog! you have a great weekend too. happy reading :)

    -michelle (and leslie)

  8. I heard wonderful things about this one. Glad u liked it.

  9. Hadn't heard about this one, but it sounds interesting! I like stories that go back and forth between different time periods. Good review!

  10. I'm not a fan of historical fiction generally. Being an academic, I find it's too romantic and unrealistic. Also, I find a lot of the covers used on historical fiction extremely dark and dreary.

    I think much of this stems from the aged patinas of artwork rather from any connection with reality. I mean, the sun surely wasn't any less bright back in the 15th Century?

    Maybe it's just because I live in a place where the sky and the quality of the sunlight are regarded as the most striking in the world (Australia)?

    However, after that long rant, this book does sound interesting to me. Maybe I'll give it a read.

  11. This sounds just my sort of read. Thank you for the recommendation - I'll look out for this one!