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Viper Wine: Book summary and reviews of Viper Wine by Hermione Eyre

Viper Wine

by Hermione Eyre

Viper Wine by Hermione Eyre X
Viper Wine by Hermione Eyre
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About this book

Book Summary

Venetia Stanley was the great beauty of her day, so dazzling she inspired Ben Jonson to poetry and Van Dyck to painting. But now she is married, the adoration to which she has become accustomed has curdled to scrutiny, and she fears her powers are waning. Her devoted husband, Sir Kenelm Digby - explorer, diplomat, philosopher, alchemist - refuses to prepare a beauty tonic for her, insisting on her continued perfection.

Venetia, growing desperate, secretly engages an apothecary to sell her "viper wine" - a strange potion said to bolster the blood and invigorate the skin.  The results are instant, glorious, and addictive, and soon the ladies of the court of Charles I are looking unnaturally youthful. But there is a terrible price to be paid, as science clashes with magic, puritans rebel against the decadent monarchy, and England slides into civil war.

Based on real events and written with anachronistic verve, Viper Wine is an intoxicating brew of love, longing and vanity, where the 17th and 21st centuries mix and mingle in the most enchanting and mind-bending ways.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Eyre's novel, darting as it does through centuries, is an engrossing take on a timeless subject." - Publishers Weekly

"A promising idea swamped by the excesses of postmodernism: the random plundering of history and an irritating air of knowingness." - Kirkus

"A fact-filled fiction that entertains and enlightens." - Library Journal

"As an allegory of our ageing-obsessed generation, [Viper Wine] is hard to argue with." - Harper's Bazaar

"Eyre is a clever historian and a cunning writer of dialogue. She also understands what makes a fun, sexy read…Well-researched and completely mad…with moments of descriptive brilliance and breathtaking cleverness." - The Times (UK)

"Audacious…Using an alchemy all of her own, Eyre's postmodern take on the 17th century renders it dazzlingly fresh and contemporary." - Guardian (UK)

"Eyre's poise and control make her easily the equal of most historical novelists, but it's her vision of worlds bleeding into worlds and her probing and pastiching of 17th-century style that are truly exciting. Viper Wine is an enormously impressive debut." - The Telegraph (UK)

"Hermione Eyre pulls off a notable trick in Viper Wine, by not just reconstructing her chosen period but rendering it permeable to intrusions from other ages…Playful…A meticulously luscious fantasia on a theme of English high life in the 1630s...Gorgeous." - Times Literary Supplement (UK)

"Exuberantly inventive and intelligent…Sumptuous, strange and startlingly original." - Mail on Sunday (UK)

"Playful, witty and expansive… an exceptionally clever and exhilarating excursion through Caroline high society, filled with echoes and anticipations of our own times." - Sunday Times (UK)

"It sounds mad, and it is, but Eyre has worked her own magic to ensure it is so in an entrancing and perfectly plausible way… Eyre's attention to tone and detail is flawless. Viper Wine is a dazzling postmodern baroque carnivalesque." - The National (UAE)

"[A] cornucopia of a novel…Would I recommend it? Certainly." - Daily Mail (UK)

"[A] psychedelic trip of a novel… Untiringly carnivalesque…Bold and wildly original, Viper Wine is an exuberantly witty play on the vanity and ghoulishness of the beauty industry, and a celebration of the unfading beauty of language." - London Evening Standard (UK)

"Eyre's manipulation of history is as funny as it is surreal." - Financial Times (UK)

"As art history it's deeply unorthodox - but as a postmodern portrait of a trend-setting painter in the midst of a comeback, it seems both thrillingly and entertainingly right." - The Independent (UK)

"A profoundly moving parable about the process of ageing, the quest for knowledge and the nature of love… Eyre's voracious enthusiasm for eclectic, highly-researched detail is persistently entertaining, breathing new life into the genre of the historical novel. A real tonic." - Country Life (UK)

This information about Viper Wine was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Hermione Eyre

Hermione Eyre was born in London and studied at Oxford University. As a journalist she has interviewed Carey Mulligan, Juliette Binoche, Robert Pattinson, and Yo-Yo Ma, among others. She contributes to publications including The Times, The Independent, Financial Times, The London Evening Standard, Elle, Harper's Bazaar and Christies Magazine. Viper Wine is her first novel.

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