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The Goddess and the Thief by Essie Fox
The Goddess and the Thief is the most enthralling novel I have read for a long time. The themes of clairvoyance, a famously cursed jewel and Hindu gods and goddesses are interwoven beautifully in a plot set in Victorian England against a backdrop of Colonial India. Essie Fox has taken an intriguing true story and spun her skilful storytelling around it.
I was drawn to this borrow this book from my lending library by the intriguing title and striking cover design, a bright lime green background with hot pink hands decorated in mehndi designs reaching towards a radiant diamond. Im glad it caught my attention; what a tremendous read! Normally I might read for half an hour to an hour a night before I get too sleepy to read any more. With this novel I kept turning the pages until I suddenly realised it was 2am and as I had to get up early next morning I forced myself to close the book and go to sleep!
Our heroine Alice is a small child at the beginning of the book, her mother has died at her birth and she is brought up in India by her father and her beloved Ayah. Her sunlit childhood changes precipitously as she is returned to a cold, grey England by her Father. He leaves her in the care of her Aunt who is a hard and bitter woman with an opium habit. She runs fraudulent séances in her parlour for those desperate to speak to dear departed loved ones. This is a scary and unscrupulous lady and she enlists the unwilling services of the child, dressing her up to appear as a spirit in the darkened room. Alice escapes her Aunt's influence to a secret room where she feels the presence of her grandmother comforting her. We soon realise that although the Aunt is a bogus medium her niece is a true sensitive.
A darkly mysterious stranger arrives on the scene who simultaneously frightens Alice and fascinates her. This handsome man is a svengali-like presence throughout the tale. He is undoubtedly a villain and commits some heinous crimes, but there is also an incredible depth to his character and his charisma and magical nature is difficult to resist, even for Alice who has more reason to hate him than anyone as she grows up.
Add to this rich plot Queen Victoria, the Koh-i-Noor diamond, an audacious theft, a curse, murder, the Maharajah in exile and you have a fabulous story that both shocks and captivates throughout.
The Goddess and the Thief
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