'Vivid and poetic' JENNIFER SAINT
'Exquisitely written' SONIA VELTON
'Page-turning' SUSAN STOKES-CHAPMAN
'Heart-wrenching' REBECCA F. JOHN
'Wholly original' SARAH BURTON
'Exquisite' EMMA CARROLL
'Bewitching' ROZ WATKINS
'Beautiful' ANNIE GARTHWAITE
'Spellbinding' NIKKI MARMERY
'Mesmerizing' ROSIE ANDREWS
It is 1665 and the women of Eyam keep many secrets.
Isabel Frith, the village midwife, walks a dangerous line with her herbs and remedies. There are men in the village who speak of witchcraft, and Isabel has a past to hide. So she tells nobody her fears about Wulfric, the pious, reclusive apothecary.
Mae, Wulfric's youngest daughter, dreads her father's rage if he discovers what she keeps from him. Like her feelings for Rafe, Isabel's ward, or the fact that she studies from Wulfric's books at night.
But others have secrets too. Secrets darker than any of them could have imagined.
When Mae makes a horrifying discovery, Isabel is the only person she can turn to. But helping Mae will place them both in unimaginable peril.
And meanwhile another danger is on its way from London. One that threatens to engulf them all . . .
Based on the real history of an English village during the Great Plague, The Hemlock Cure is an utterly beguiling tale of fear and ambition, betrayal, self-sacrifice and the unbreakable bond between two women.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 45 members
What could have been just another book about how witches lived in the 17th century turned out to be quite satisfying. "The Hemlock Cure" is based on actual events that took place in a small English village in 1666, during the Great Plague, when the village virtually quarantined itself in an attempt to stem the growing number of deaths from the plague. Mae lives with her father, the village apothecary, helping him to produce his medicines while hoping that he will finally accept her as his apprentice. At the same time, she studies with Isabel, the village midwife and "wise-woman" whose knowledge of herbs and natural remedies, has helped many women. Isabel shares a mysterious history with Mae's father, and she lives in fear of what might befall Mae while living under his roof. To reveal more would spoil a many-layered and multi-threaded plot, which at first seems a bit random, but which slowly builds into a glorious picture of life in a small village, and the trials and tribulations of those who practiced medicine in the middle ages. We also take a trip to London, where the sights and smells of the plague-ridden city are drawn to perfection. The book also examines the nature of family, relationships, and religion. There's also a neat twist, in the shape of the narrator of the story. The book should appeal to fans of Michelle Paver and Stacey Halls, and readers of A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan. Definitely worth a look.
It can be dangerous to be a knowledgable woman in the 17th century. Isabel Frith is the village midwife and she knows well the power to be found in nature, but she also knows men in the village whisper about witchcraft, so she is very careful to hide her talents and to keep her concerns about the local apothecary, Wulfric Mae, Wulfric’s daughter also fears the apothecary, who would be fiercely angry if he knew she studied from his books and had feelings for Isabel’s ward, Rafe. When Mae uncovers a terrible secret, Mae is the only one she can confide in, but confronting the evil could cost both women their lives. This is an intense, well researched book about ignorance, prejudice and fear; something sadly, not confined to the past
A good historical novel about Eyam, and London in the Plague Times., in the seventeenth century. This novel brings history to life, and centres mainly upon the relationship between Isabel and Mae. It is a complex plot, and I shall not reveal any more of it, for fear of spoiling it. However I would recommend it as a good read. Thank you to netgalley and the publishers for giving me a copy of the book.
The Hemlock Cure by Joanne Burn Loosely based on a true story. ( Eyam is a Derbyshire village that closed itself off to protect the area during the 17th century when the plague came to the village ) The story is about the village midwife , Isabel Frith with the knowledge of natural potions to help the women and the wider community of Eyam. She has an ally in Mae , the apothecarys daughter , but to some they could be working with the dark forces. A brilliant book about people trying to find answers to questions and things they don't understand. I love it when an author brings historic fact and adds fiction to enhance a story.
Incredible book, couldn’t put it down! Extremely well written to the point you feel you are there with them. Deserves to be a best seller.
A well thought out and intricate plot and one in which I really enjoyed. Great variety of the points of view in which the story is told. Also, it does time hop slightly so keep an eye out. Love the threads of witchcraft coming through on this. Powerful, clever, surprising.
Set in 1665, this is a fictionalised part of the story of the plague village, Eyam, in the Peak District. This is a village that closed its borders to people to stop the plague spreading further. Isabel Frith is the local midwife, but runs the risk of being thought a witch because of her use of herbs and potions. She draws the hatred of Wulfric, the village apothecary, who is also somewhat of a religious zealot. His daughter, Mae, dreams of becoming his apprentice but will never be allowed, as she is just a girl. This is a powerful, if slightly slow, read. It features real inhabitants of Eyam, alongside the fictional families. And while it’s about the plague, it’s more the story of the time, where men’s word was law, religion played a great part in every ones lives, and women had no rights. It’s a very well researched and written story, bringing to life the people and places of that era, in Eyam but also in London; you can almost smell the stench of the city. A well crafted read. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.
Beautifully written but a dark and dismal tale. Perhaps it is all too close to jhome during this time of the Covid Pandemic. The author paints a vivid picture of life in the mid 1600 - not only in small villages but also big cities. The research is excellent even if the story it tells is of pain, sorrow, ignorance and grief. Perhaps an author in the future will tell a similar tale of today’s woes. Did I enjoy it? Not sure but it will live with me for a time……
What a joy this Book was to read , because amid it's Characters of whom only the Main one's were Fictitious it gave a whole new light on what it must have been like especially for Women to live in these times & more so during the Plague in the Historic Peak District Village of Eyam ! Here under the leadership of the rector, Rev. William Mompesson and his predecessor, the Rev. Thomas Stanley, the villagers agreed to accept strict quarantine to prevent the spread of the disease beyond the village boundary, & other Villages left supplies at the Boundaries to sustain those within, & the Villagers even buried their own Dead when the Gravedigger Marshall Howe succumbed to the Plague , he actually survived unlike his wife & baby son. Out of the 800 villagers 260 died from this dreadful pestilence , we have visited Eyam & even when full of tourists it has a strange eerie atmosphere .I highly recommend this book, & dare any reader not to be greatly moved when reading it . #FB, #NetGalley, #Instagram, #GoodReads, #Amazon.co.uk, #<img src="https://www.netgalley.com/badge/c566f42be23a0e25d120e78a3454e2d427c4beee" width="80" height="80" alt="50 Book Reviews" title="50 Book Reviews"/>, #<img src="https://www.netgalley.com/badge/ef856e6ce35e6d2d729539aa1808a5fb4326a415" width="80" height="80" alt="Reviews Published" title="Reviews Published"/>, #<img src="https://www.netgalley.com/badge/aa60c7e77cc330186f26ea1f647542df8af8326a" width="80" height="80" alt="Professional Reader" title="Professional Reader"/>.
When I first picked up this book I made assumptions as to how the story would play out - a village is faced with the outbreak of a terrible illness and the women who help to provide treatments to the sick are faced with accusations of witchcraft. I was pleasantly surprised with how the story went, and I think this helps the book to stand out amongst others of the genre. Mae is keen to learn the ways of being an apothecary but her father, Wulfric, is a pious man who fears that the devil is lurking in the very heart of his home. The narration by Mae’s sister, Leah, is interspersed with excerpts from Wulfric’s diary and these snippets help to provide an insight into his behaviour, as well as revealing key elements of the story. The book is well written and the characters are all fleshed out and believable. With some interesting twists and turns the book keeps your interest to the end, and you really do feel for Mae and her situation. Set during the plague in the town of Eyam, who chose to quarantine to halt the spread of the illness to Sheffield, there are obviously parallels with our recent experiences of lockdown. Maybe because of recent events the author didn’t want to dwell on this too much, but I felt more could have been made of this particular plot point. One for fans of historical fiction, this is an entertaining read that will see you through the dark nights of winter! Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
The Hemlock Cure by Joanne Burn is an excellent and fascinating historical fiction that gives the reader a glimpse of what it would have been like to have been present in England during the plague of 1666. Truly engaging. This is such a unique, intricate, complex, yet addictive novel. I don’t think I have read anything quite like it. The author has taken her painstaking research and created a multi-layered narrative to take the reader into the village of Eyam during the all-encompassing plague of 1666. Here we get the glimpses of life for those involved within this sequestered village from an array of angles in the voice of a deceased girl. The reader delves into the lives at one point of a midwife, apothecary, those young and old, male and female. We see the dynamics of societal, gender, occupational, and religious relationships and ideals within these characters. We see the contraints, the double standards, the superstitions, the misconceptions, and the wrongs/rights of those that live within the village at this time. We can see how these inhabitants are treated by their family members and by one another. We also see how medicine, religion, and the supernatural all play a part in how the Black Death is perceived, understood, and treated. There are twists and turns, developments, suspense, and a full character cast that all add together to make this novel one of a kind and truly immersive. I whole heartedly recommend this historical fiction that I truly enjoyed. 5/5 stars Thank you NG and Little, Brown Book Group UK for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately (as of 9/13/21 no BB listing has been created) and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication on 2/10/22.
Based in the plague village of Eyam, which quarantined itself from the rest of the world during the plague to prevent contamination spreading to neighbouring towns & villages, this is the story of Mae, the apothecary’s daughter. The story is told by the ghost? of Leah & their father, the village apothecary Wulfric’s, diary. The main characters all have their secrets as we flit from Mae, to Wulfric’s diary, to Isobel (village midwife & friend to Mae’s passed mother, & her husband Johan who leaves to visit his friend in London. I did feel at times there were a few too many characters whose stories detracted unnecessarily (Katarina for example) & would have loved to have had more details about the village during this time. I loved the real characters interspersed amongst the story & the description of the herbs, tonics & medicines of the time. I enjoyed the story & would rate it 4/5 Thanks to NetGalley for my copy.
I’ve always been fascinated by the Black Death plague of 1666 ever since I learnt about it aged about 8. This book takes the back drop of the village of Eyam, where the villagers isolated itself in order to save neighbouring towns from the plague but adds in another story of a young girl and imagines her life. It is narrated by a dead girl, Leah, who flits from scene to scene and tells the story from various perspectives but mostly from that of her sister, Mae. They were/are daughters of Wulfric, the town’s apothecary and now a widower after both Leah and his wife, Isabel died. He is a God fearing and superstitious man with a specific fear of witches and displeasing God due to the actions of his family. As such, he is particularly concerned by his wife’s best friend, Elizabeth, and her motherly interest in Mae. Elizabeth is the town’s midwife, which in spite of sharing many of the tools of the apothecary, is perceived by Wulfric as an ungodly role as women should suffer as they give birth due to Eve’s original sin. There is therefore an interesting juxtaposition of two quite similar jobs. The real concern for the reader and the ghostly narrator is Wulfric’s paternal authoritarian behaviour/domestic abuse of his remaining daughter. The plot focuses upon Elizabeth and her adopted son Rafe’s attempts to rescue Mae which become gradually more determined. I enjoyed the book, it sounds a bit strange having the narrator as a dead character but it quickly felt natural. The setting was interesting, other social issues are focused upon in a thoughtful manner (I don’t want to say what as it’s a spoiler). If you enjoy historical novels then I would recommend the book. The book is available in February 2022 and I received an ARC copy from Netgalley in return for an honest review.
This story is set in the village of Eyam and is based on true events whereby the village went to great lengths to help save its population from the devastating effects of the plague. The storytelling is great and provides fantastic historical insight into a famous event in history, through fiction. I really enjoyed this book and recommend to anyone with any slight interest in this period of history.
Beautifully written and structured, I loved the writing style and the story being told from different points of view. In a couple of places I found the tension almost unbearable. Based on true events during the Great Plague in the 17th century, where a small town shut itself off to avoid spreading the disease, the story is bleak but the descriptions are so vivid and atmospheric, it was easy to think you were actually there. A really fascinating and unusual book.
A gripping and well-written book, dealing with a fascinating period in history. I particularly liked the blend of fact and fiction.
SUCH A GOOD READ, history fiction at its finest, I am fascinated with the macabre and so books set around the plague are always a win for me and this was no different. It was dark and full of suspense and secrets. I loved it
The Hemlock Cure is a gently moving story set during the year 1665-1666 in the village of Eyam, England. The plague has spread from London, carried in a shipment of clothing and has begun to spread amongst the population. With in these known facts Joanne Burn has placed the fictitious family of Wulfric, the village apothecary. The social and religious relationships in the village are complex and we see how superstitions, misconceptions and strong beliefs influence the characters and their interactions with each other and with the threat brought by the plague. While medicine and cures have advanced during this period, religion and the supernatural still rule the day. There are twists and turns in this intriguing story as people awaken to things that have been happening under their very noses. The detail and research that have gone into the writing of the text add layers of interest and authenticity and create a very readable historical novel. With thanks to Netgalley and Little, Brown Book Group UK. for the opportunity to read an early copy of this book in return for an honest review.
I really enjoyed this book. As a child I went to Eyam many times and knew the plague story from early years. Today, just after the pandemic, reading about travel passports and quarantine, it really hits home! The story is about more than the plague as the families battle their demons and it feels tense, real and well written. It took me a few chapters to get into the story and to work out who belonged to which family but then I was hooked and throughly recommend it
The Hemlock Cure is a harrowing and fear-inspiring tale set in the village of Eyam during the seventeenth century and is based on a true story. The author manages to paint the bleak and morbid picture of the sights and times of the period really well. Village life is bought under the microscope as we delve into family life, relationships, religion and the supernatural (or fear of it). The story can be a little slow, but the incidents of the narrative are totally absorbing. It all helps to build up the tension and suspense. Spiritism, pagan superstition and folklore were rife, and word gets around. Messing around with herbs was like signing your own death warrant. The characters are well described and full of depth. The bond between Mae and Isabel is wonderful to behold. With the current Covid situation, the plague of London struck home hard. The Philosophical Transactions journal temporary postponement of printing was a stark reminder of businesses closing down during the recent pandemic. It was then interesting to see how the author played with medicine (namely herbs) to combat plague within the lockdown of the village. Mae, learning from her father, the apothecary of the village, and Isabel, the village midwife and wise-woman who has first-hand knowledge of herbs and natural remedies, played a part in trying to find a cure. I enjoyed The Hemlock Cure, it is a great piece of historical fiction, and I look forward to reading more from Joanne Burn. Thanks to, NetGalley and Little, Brown Book Group UK & Sphere for the ADC of the book.
I found this an excellent read. The comparisons between the Black Death and recent events were compelling.
I loved the timeliness of this book set in the plague years in 16th Century northern England as a village decides to quarantine itself to prevent the spread of plague to larger local towns This story itself has been told many times but the author of this book manages to find a fresh approach to the story by intertwining stories of feminism ,witchcraft and sexual freedom . The quarantine cleverly adds stress and speed to the story as it becomes clear how this will effect many village members in different ways .It also strengthens the feeling of claustrophobia adding additional elements to the story I was quickly invested in the characters and wanted to see them overcome their difficulties The historical detail is beautifully wound into the narration and is believable and accurate We all know so much more about pandemics having lived through covid 19 and I think this book will hold true for a lot of our own 21st century experiences. I read an early copy on NetGalley Uk the book is published 10 February 2022 and I am sure will be a best seller
About 20 years ago I read a novel about Eyam, the Derbyshire Plague Village. This is altogether a darker and more superstitious tale of this village in 1665/6. There are glimpses of earlier times through diary entries and the observations of the (dead) narrator which help to explain "current" views and relationships. This is a time when some people's views of medicines were not far removed from 400 years previously, which makes the advances of the subsequent 350 years or so even more amazing. It was also a time when religion was a much bigger and more important part of everyday life, and people still believed in witches. Wulfric is the village apothecary who lives in a bare and soul less cottage with his daughter Mae. "The Hemlock Cure" is the tale of Mae's fight for survival during times made even harder by the arrival of the plague in Eyam. This book is at times a challenging read but is well worth persevering with. Thanks to Net Galley and the publishers for the opportunity to review this book.
My parents came from the Buxton area. I was taken to Eyam as a young child and was shown the graves of the plague victims. This powerful memory has stayed with me. I particularly remember the bravery of the villagers who stayed in Eyam to stop the plague spreading. I have read “The Parcel of Patterns” which I found moving. However, “The Hemlock Cure” not only shows the horror of living with a deadly, highly contagious illness but it gives us a real insight into the people who lived in the village; some are real people and some are not. This book is so relevant to our current situation of living with covid 19 with neighbours turning on neighbours while others show such kindness. Today, we have modern medicine but in the days of the plague, the people relied on herbalists. It was a heartbreaking story told by the dead sister of one of the book’s main characters, Mae. Their father is a religious fanatic. I don’t want to give spoilers but there are many twists and turns which involve midwifery and the way women were treated in these times. A very well researched and well written story which I highly recommend. Thank you Netgalley for allowing me to read and review this book.
After what felt like a slow start, this book really took off for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Lots of interesting historical references wound around a heart wrenching tale of survival, and not just from the Great Plague! The tale is based in the village of Eyam in Derbyshire which deliberately cut itself off to help stop its spread. Although in itself a sad tale, it shows how hidden secrets can destroy a community, but how human spirit and the friendships forged between women have the courage to overcome the most evil of deeds.
Fascinating historical fiction from a writer who just breathes love of words. I frequently paused just to re-read a sentence or even a phrase (mouse-soft!) and I liked the complexity of the story and characters a lot. I would definitely look out for more by Joanne Burn.
I have always been fascinated with the events of the plague and especially what took place in the village of Eyam. When I saw there was a book based around these events I knew I had to read it. The Hemlock Cure was a deeply fascinating story and one that I got through in only 2 days. If I wasn’t reading it, I felt bereft. I felt the way the story was narrated was unique in that we were following the story of Mae but told from the point of view of her dead sister Leah. There were also snippets of their Dads diary Wulfric which added much needed insight into his personality. I gave this book 4 stars due to its uniqueness, the ability to keep me hooked and because it was just a fantastically written book. If anything I would of liked it to be longer! I will definitely be picking up another book by this author in the future.
It's the year 1665/1666, time of Great Plague and in the little village of Eyam people have many secrets, especially women, women with knowledge to heal as is midwife/wise-woman Isabel. These women are in great danger to be accused as witches. Isabel also tries to help Mae with her knowledge, bright young woman who in secret reads father's apothecary books and wants to be accepted as his apprentice. But Wulfric is a rigorous and tormented man with dark secrets on his own. In time becomes obvious that Mae is not safe in her home. Tensions grow and it seems that there is only one cure. Hemlock cure. The Hemlock Cure is based on actual events that took place in a small English village in 1666, during the Great Plague, when the village virtually quarantined itself in an attempt to stem the growing number of deaths from the plague. The narrative is a reflection of a life in a 17th century. Influence of the religion and patriarchal society, mixed with fear of gruesome disease and also secret knowledge and education of women. Dark and gripping, the reader cannot put the book down.
The story of The Hemlock cure takes place with the great plague of London in the background. The story takes place between 1660 -1666 and it is party a fiction with a strong dose of non-fiction. We have the main character Mae who is extremely gift in the knowledge of plant medicine but is abused by her father who is a hypocrite with his false facade of piety and righteousness justified by him in the name of lord. And there is Isabel who is the motherly figure to Mae and helps her in every way. Soon Mae gets know about a terrible truth that takes away her footing and nudges her to her core. The narration is outstanding. The facts all amazing and the plot ,extraordinary with amazing build up. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Thank you to the author and publishing house for accepting my request or else I'd have missed a gem of a book.
A captivating historical novel set in the village of Eyam in the Peak District National Park (Derbyshire) during the somber years of the Great Plague at the beginning of the 1660s. A tale of family secrets, religious madness, poison and survival among the inhabitants of a small community totally isolated by the raging pandemic. Cleverly plotted and blessed with a cast of unforgettable characters this magnificent novel opens a very fascinating window on the bleakness and desolateness of rural England during the first chaotic years of the Stuart Restoration. A marvellous fictional tapestry that deserves to be enjoyed without any moderation whatsoever! Many thanks to Netgalley and Little Brown (UK) for this terrific ARC
I enjoyed ‘The Hemlock Cure’ by Joanne Burn. I have read a few novels set in Eyam during the plague but this was one of the best.
A book of witches, of an English village in 1666, a plague and of real events which happened in this time. All this makes for a great book which has been so well researched and you can feel the intenseness in this book in every page. It brings together religion, superstition, spiritualism, sickness, healing and of course family and personal relationships. The characters are very interesting and I enjoyed the connection between Mae and Isabel as well as Mae's father. It was at times a bit slow going but all in all it is a very interesting read with many layers, twists and turns and a great storyline. It took me in to a world I have never known and showed me what it was like to live in those times now long gone.
A multi-faceted story of one household (mainly), one village during the plague which beset England in the middle of the 17th century. Prejudice and suspicion, religion and misogyny underpin the novel and the plight of its characters. The dual timeline enfolds thanks to our narrator, in addition to diary entries. The sparkling prose and detailed drawing of characters make for an engrossing, compelling read, masterfully told. The ending was simple and understated - a possible weakness in my opinion - but full of hope. Here’s to successful futures for our strong, female protagonists. This story would transfer beautifully to film. Let’s hope that happens.