From Publishers Weekly
A child of the English Age of Reason learns lessons of the heart in McMahon's fifth historical, her first published in the U.S. Like Philippa Gregory, she mixes historical accuracy with a heroine modern at heart if not in outward appearance. It's 1727, and 19-year-old Emilie Selden, cloistered since birth at Buckinghamshire's Selden Manor, is docile under the iron rule of her domineering father, John, a scientist by reputation and an alchemist by calling. Under his stern tutelage, Emilie, who narrates, studies nature using the same methods used by their hero, Sir Isaac Newton. While on the verge of formulating her own theory of air and fire, Emilie meets two men: Thomas Shales, a clergyman and natural philosopher who alienates John Selden as much through his regard for Emilie as through his disregard for alchemy, and Robert Aislabie, a London adventurer who calls at Selden Manor to gain the father's secrets and ends up taking the daughter's heart. Father and daughter soon learn that love and loss cannot be kept in the confines of the laboratory. McMahon highlights social turmoil through Emilie's maid, Sarah, and intellectual conflict at the Royal Society, including a memorable evocation of Newton's funeral. Emilie's voice is clear, and McMahon doesn't shy away from the Enlightenment's darker sides, giving this popular historical a satisfying gravity. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Historical fiction lovers will find themselves swept up in McMahon's gripping tale of a young woman whose learning is at odds with her heart in eighteenth-century England. Emilie Selden has been raised to be a scientist by her reserved, brilliant father He's made her his apprentice in his studies of chemistry, physics, and even alchemy, and although she loves both her father and her studies, she is pulled in another direction when one day handsome young Robert Aislabie arrives on the Seldens' doorstep, purportedly looking for scientific information. He leaves with Emilie's heart, and the two begin a secret courtship that results in Emilie becoming pregnant. When her father finds out, he refuses to speak to her, although he does allow her to marry Aislabie. Emilie's initial bliss soon wears off when she loses the child and discovers Aislabie is not what he seems. Her troubled marriage leads her back to Selden Manor, where she discovers the truth about her own past and has an emotional awakening. An involving, moving tale. Kristine Huntley
See all Editorial Reviews
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved