Molly Cutpurse

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The Herb Girl

ISBN 978-1-291-90618-9

Published: February 2010

Republished 2024

Print Length:266 pages

Language: English

The Herb Girl is a noir novel set in and around Purfleet in Essex in 1923 with the mood being relatively desolate and nihilistic. By way of a damning gypsy's curse, a sea captain, a Scots-born female rogue, savage inexplicable accidents, suicide, murder and two of the oldest sexual dysfunctions known to civilization, The Herb Girl chronicles a year in the life and close family of, Patience, a bewitching, heavily-pregnant, Cornish-bred herbalist, whose life is not entirely guiltless. The Herb Girl is a self-contained maze, a story involving poisoning, love, dementia, and rage. But who is the unreliable narrator? Who is telling this story? What is his wholly abhorrent secret and why is he so personally judgmental?

eBook or paperback, you can trust;

5 out of 5 stars.

intricate ingenious social story set in Edwardian times

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 7 July 2012

This book is not easy to summarize. it's a complex tale centering around a retired seaman and the unfortunate people who have to put up with him. but that's only part of it. the story fizzes and sparkles like a box of fireworks thrown onto a fire.

It's Edwardian England; we have a young girl, an expert in herbs, cauterizing the hand of a lad who has burned off two of his fingers in a prank gone wrong; a young husband cut in half by an accident at work; the old seaman thinks he may have the clap... and now his wife is starting to realize that she's not well... that's only the first 7 chapters (there are 65).

The story is intricate, well-researched (there's an entire page on hemlock), ingenious, twisty, vivid, quirky, oddly observant, and fascinating. now i'm wondering which of molly's other novels to try ....

Nigel Sutton