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  • Title: The Unquiet Heart
  • Author: Kaite Welsh
  • Publisher: Tinder Press
  • Publication Date: 30th May 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

Kaite Welsh’s thrilling medical mystery THE UNQUIET HEART is the second in the gothic Sarah Gilchrist series, following a medical student turned detective in Victorian Edinburgh. For readers of Natasha Pulley’s THE WATCHMAKER OF FILIGREE STREET or Laura Purcell’s THE SILENT COMPANIONS.

This powerful novel combines a disturbing look at late Victorian attitudes towards women and morality with a satisfying murder mystery – Sunday Express

Sarah Gilchrist has no intention of marrying her dull fiancé Miles, the man her family hope will restore her reputation and put an end to her dreams of becoming a doctor, but when he is arrested for a murder she is sure he didn’t commit she finds herself his reluctant ally. Beneath the genteel façade of upper class Edinburgh lurks blackmail, adultery, poison and madness and Sarah must return to Edinburgh’s slums, back alleys and asylums as she discovers the dark past about a family where no one is what they seem, even Miles himself. It also brings her back into the orbit of her mercurial professor, Gregory Merchiston – he sees Sarah as his protegee, but can he stave off his demons long enough to teach her the skills that will save her life?

My Thoughts:

The Unquiet Heart is the second installment in the series to feature Sarah Gilchrist written by Kaite Welsh. In this series, we are once more led into the world of 19th-century-Edinburgh where a group of intelligent women are continuing their fight to be educated in the field of medicine at the University of Edinburgh.

Following the scandals that were unearthed in The Wages of Sin, Sarah Gilchrist is struggling to conform to the image her family wish to portray. Her engagement to Miles is a pretence, she has no desire to marry him, but her family hope that this will be the key to Sarah giving up her dream of becoming a doctor, and restore their name after the shame she brought upon them.

I would recommend reading the books in this series in order, this will allow readers to grasp the importance of the events that took place in The Wages of Sin. It will allow readers to fully appreciate the journey that Sarah Gilchrist has made. Not only the physical journey to Edinburgh, but the mental journey she has been on to get to the place she’s at now. There is no denying that this is a complex character, one with a past that could make her vulnerable, but instead, she uses it to spur her onward.

The plot of The Unquiet Heart is fascinating and utterly gripping. I found myself reading another chapter and another, before giving up on sleep entirely because I couldn’t possibly put this book down. The way that the action and drama unfolds is clever and intense, Welsh manages to pack the right amount of drama into each moment. She deftly weaves atmosphere and vivid detail through out the narrative, crafting a truly magnificent book. This is a treat for fans of historic fiction, the attention to detail and care that have gone into the research and writing of this book make it a delight to read. And, not only do we have a thrilling read, we also navigate the societal hurdles of the time as Sarah Gilchrist fights against the accepted norms of the time, defying the gendered stereotypical roles by being a medical student, not being married by a certain age and finding a match in the most unlikely place.

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Published: 1 June 2017

 

Description:

An irresistible mystery set in 1890s Edinburgh, Kaite Welsh’s THE WAGES OF SIN features a female medical student-turned-detective, and will thrill fans of Sarah Waters and Antonia Hodgson.

Sarah Gilchrist has fled from London to Edinburgh in disgrace and is determined to become a doctor, despite the misgivings of her family and society. As part of the University of Edinburgh’s first intake of female medical students, in 1892, Sarah comes up against resistance from lecturers, her male contemporaries, and – perhaps worst of all – her fellow women, who will do anything to avoid being associated with a fallen woman…

When one of Sarah’s patients turns up in the university dissecting room as a battered corpse, Sarah finds herself drawn into Edinburgh’s dangerous underworld of bribery, brothels and body snatchers – and a confrontation with her own past.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

“The Wages of Sin” is a wonderfully atmospheric fictional thriller, it is steeped in fantastically rich detail that portrays life in the late 1800s as both interesting as well as fraught with danger.

Society deemed that women in this era should know their place, that being in the home raising families, tending to the needs of their husbands or generally being gentile and “ladylike”, and most definitely not wielding scalpels and training to become surgeons at Edinburgh University.  Society clearly never encountered Sarah Gilchrist and her 12 like minded classmates it would seem.
Having disgraced her family in  London, Sarah is sent to live with her aunt and uncle in Edinburgh, and it is agreed that she can attend her studies at the university so long as she is ferried back and forth by a driver and kept from any temptations or situations that might besmirch the good family name any further.

The adversity and oppression faced by women in this era is demonstrated well by the author, attitudes of those around Sarah blatantly showing horror at her chosen career path, her fellow students keen to ridicule each other and the rivalry between both male and female students rife.  Indeed, there seems to be more rivalry between the female students who seem more eager to bring each other down than to support and hold one another up.

Through her work at the local Infirmary, Sarah comes into contact with those less fortunate, the poor and destitute pouring in through the doors in search of medical help as well as the women from the surrounding brothels.  Unfortunately for Sarah, one of these women seeks assistance that cannot be given, abortions being illegal at the time.  From here Sarah embarks on a journey of self destruction, believing that something is amiss and nefarious practises surround her.  Her detective skills might be somewhat lacking but her heart is in the right place, she is determined to find out the truth behind the death of a patient, even if it means casting accusations wildly.

This is a very well thought out and well researched book, the topic of female emancipation making for interesting reading.  The descriptiveness of characters and settings in this mean that readers can conjure vivid images in their heads of the squalor of the slums, the opulence of Society and the bitter chill of a Scottish winter.
Sarah is a character that is well crafted, initially a broken and seemingly fragile creature, her studies give her hope and something to work towards, she develops well but still retains some vulnerabilities and naivety.

Kaite Welsh has crafted a clever tale of corruption, wickedness and discrimination that seeps into all tiers of Victorian society.

You can buy a copy of “The Wages of Sin” via:

Amazon
The Book Depository
Wordery

My thanks to Headline and Tinder Press for the opportunity to read and review this book.

 

 

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