Endurance, Durie, Proudfoot dreams of a career as a bonesetter – a kind of 18th century chiropractor – and hopes to be apprenticed by her father to succeed him. But a female bonesetter is not what people are used to. Still, she and her brother are allowed to join their father so he can choose who’s got the knack. But then Durie’s sister Lucinda gets pregnant and the sisters go to their aunt Ellen in London so Luncinda can give up the child to The Foundling Hospital. Drurie sees her dream go up in smoke.
What a fantastic book! Quinn has such a fine storytelling style and is tremendously good at creating believable characters that you really empathise with. Durie is a sturdily built woman and bold in her speech, which makes her constantly feel out of place. But she is strong and therefore very suitable to become a bonesetter.
Her sister Lucinda is her total opposite and tries to get a good position through the men in her life. And then there is Aunt Ellen, who has built a career on her own through her cake shop, without any help from men. As you can tell, there’s a strong feminist theme in this book. The men in Durie’s life (with one exception) make things very difficult for her, especially the other doctors. Purely out of jealousy.
You would think that a female chiropractor has sprung from the author’s imagination. But Durie’s story is loosely based on the life of Sally Mapp, a female bonesetter who earned her living in London during the 18th century.
There are so many different plot lines in this book: rurie bonesetter’s dream, Lucinda’s career as a stage actress, Ellen’s cake shop, Durie’s visits to the menagerie of the Tower and The Foundling Hospital where Lucinda’s baby ends up. 18th century London really comes alive.
I now urgently need to read Quinn’s first book ‘The smallest men’ and look forward to whatever she will write next.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in return for my honest opinion.
This is book 7/20 for ‘20 books of summer‘.
Have you read anything bij Frances Quinn?