Release Date: 03/06/11
It is 1660. The King is back, memories of the Civil War still rankle. In rural Westmorland, artist Alice Ibbetson has become captivated by the rare Lady's Slipper orchid. She is determined to capture it's unique beauty for posterity, even if it means stealing the flower from the land of the recently converted Quaker, Richard Wheeler. Fired by his newfound faith, the former soldier Wheeler feels bound to track down the missing orchid. Meanwhile, others are eager to lay hands on the flower, and have their own powerful motives. Margaret Poulter, a local medicine woman, is seduced by the orchid's mysterious herbal powers, while Geoffrey Fisk, Alice's patron and former comrade-in-arms of Wheeler, sees the valuable plant as a way to repair his ailing fortunes and cure his own agonizing illness.
Fearing that Wheeler and his friends are planning revolution, Fisk sends his son Stephen to spy on the Quakers, only for the young man to find his loyalties divided as he befriends the group he has been sent to investigate. Then, when Alice Ibbetson is implicated in a brutal murder, she is imprisoned along with the suspected anti-royalist Wheeler. As Fisk's sanity grows ever more precarious, and Wheeler and Alice plot their escape, a storm begins to brew, from which no party will escape unscathed.
Vivid, gripping and intensely atmospheric, The Lady's Slipper is a novel about beauty, faith and loyalty. It marks the emergence of an exquisite new voice in historical fiction.
Whilst I’m known for loving a trip in time with authors like Philippa Gregory, I’m not usually that enamoured of a lot of the historical fiction female writers as they either don’t have enough detail within their work or they let it all fall apart with the characters electing to let strong men lead rather than taking the bull by the horns.
What this title from Deborah does restores my fair and gave me a great lead character in the form of Alice Ibbetsen who I grew to care about and like from the get go and then also loved to see what she’d get up to in the tale as it unfurled. Add to this some great prose, some great descriptiveness and of course a plot that focus’ on story rather than a huge cast that made this an intimate title that the reader was allowed to share. Wonderfully written and a book I’d recommend to anyone who wants something special either for a birthday present or a special gift.