Release Date: 14/01/16
Publisher: Two Roads
The Words in My Hand is the reimagined true story of Helena Jans, a Dutch maid in 17th-century Amsterdam, who works for Mr Sergeant the English bookseller. When a mysterious and reclusive lodger arrives - the Monsieur - Mr Sergeant insists everything must be just so. It transpires that the Monsieur is René Descartes.
This is Helena's story: the woman in front of Descartes, a young woman who yearns for knowledge, who wants to write so badly she makes ink from beetroot and writes in secret on her skin - only to be held back by her position in society.
Weaving together the story of Descartes' quest for reason with Helena's struggle for literacy, their worlds overlap as their feelings deepen; yet remain sharply divided. For all Descartes' learning, it is Helena he seeks out as she reveals the surprise in the everyday world that surrounds him.
When reputation is everything and with so much to lose, some truths must remain hidden. Helen
A story that I wasn’t really aware of and whilst I knew the name of one of the protagonists, the events and others associated with him would be a complete mystery to me, so that when I read this, it would be to not only learn about this love story but also to see how he fit into his timer period.
Firstly for me what Guinevere has done extremely well is bring the time to life, I loved wandering round the streets of Amsterdam getting to meet the tales characters and loved spending time getting to know them as this love story unfurls. It has great pace, wonderfully descriptive prose and for me gave me a title that I didn’t want to put down, especially as real events blended seamlessly within the tales context to generate not only a snapshot of the time but of a mind that would go on to be thought of as the father of modern philosophy.
All round I loved this book and its definitely a highlight to kick off the new year with. Cracking.