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The Pharmacist's Wife

by Vanessa Tait

Books with reviews by our Reader Review Panel eBooks of the Month Historical Fiction Thriller and Suspense

LoveReading View on The Pharmacist's Wife

March 2018 Book of the Month

Oh my, this is a fascinating, darkly powerful novel with biting attitude, set in Victorian Edinburgh. In the laboratory above a newly opened pharmacy, a wonder-drug is created, as the pharmacist experiments, his wife of six months discovers a world she couldn’t have imagined. Kindness and love sit at the very heart of this novel, however light can be so easily doused, and a bleak and twisted shadow menaces the pages. This may be a blistering Victorian drama, yet the characters feel so very real, their thoughts and feelings could easily be exposed today. Vanessa Tait writes with a provocative, combative pen, my mind flinched, my heart ached, and yet hope existed within the very centre of my being.  Raw, elemental and disturbing, The Pharmacist’s Wife is an entirely captivating, enthralling read - highly recommended.

Liz Robinson

The Pharmacist's Wife Synopsis

Love. Desire. Vengeance. A deadly alchemy.When Rebecca Palmer's new husband opens a pharmacy in Victorian Edinburgh, she expects to live the life of a well-heeled gentlewoman. But her ideal is turns to ashes when she discovers her husband is not what he seems. As Rebecca struggles to maintain her dignity in the face of his infidelity and strange sexual desires, Alexander tries to pacify her so-called hysteria with a magical new chemical creation. A wonder-drug he calls heroin. Rebecca's journey into addiction takes her further into her past, and her first, lost love, while Alexander looks on, curiously observing his wife's descent. Meanwhile, Alexander's desire to profit from his invention leads him down a dangerous path that blurs science, passion, and death. He soon discovers that even the most promising experiments can have unforeseen and deadly consequences...

Reminiscent of the works of Sarah Waters, this is a brilliantly observed piece of Victoriana which deals with the disempowerment of women, addiction, desire, sexual obsession and vengeance.

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The Pharmacist's Wife Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title. You can click here to read the full reviews.

Prepare to immerse yourself in Victorian times and live amongst the daily trials faced by Rebecca Palmer, a woman who on the face of things should be happy, but definitely isn’t. Full review

Julie Watkin

A strong story that is enticing from the start and tells a tale of addiction and desire in the Victorian Edinburgh. Lightly sprinkled with historical detail and overall a great read. Would recommend. Full review

Charlotte Walker

A Edinburgh of gas lamps, horse drawn trams and carts. The atmosphere this author has conjured up is magnificent. You live in Edinburgh of the mid 1800's and savour every moment. Full review

Alfred Nobile

The Pharmacist's Wife is a gripping tale of drugs, passion and a woman's fight against oppression. Full review

Heather Byrne

An unusual story set in Victorian times about the emerging development of laudanum and heroin and it's misuse through pomposity and ignorance. A very chilling and extremely engaging novel. Full review

Judith Waring

Victorian Edinburgh not as one would imagine Victorian society. Pharmacist with dreams of curing his wife "hysteria" with the new chemical wonder drug heroin- this opens Pandora’s box. Full review

Jane Brown

A compelling, brilliantly written book that feels very apt for the current climate, exploring feminism without being preachy. I loved it. Full review

Rebecca Cockeram

Accurate reflection of attitudes of times gone by and an entertaining read. Full review

Peter Mynehan

A brilliant story from beginning to end covering a wide variety of genres for readers. Full review

Catherine Bryce

A tale of Life in Edinburgh in the mid 19th Century. Full review

Nicola Cooper

This book is set in the Victorian era and it is a story about a married couple Rebecca and Alexander, I did think it was going to be more about the pharmacy side but it was interesting to read. Full review

Hannah Ward

Rebecca is indeed a feisty young woman and Alexander is truthfully highly unpleasant. There are, however, no depths to their characters and in actuality I didn't really care much for either of them. Full review

Kerry Bridges

A thrilling, dark and well written psychological study into drug addiction set in Victorian Edinburgh. Full review

Liz Stein

Didn't want to put it down in the end. Full review


A slower burner, that i struggled to stick with. Full review

Laura Rowland

The Pharmacist's Wife Press Reviews

A captivating book.... It is a story that is both whimsical and disturbing. -- Lady Review for THE LOOKING GLASS HOUSE 

Tait's engaging novel... is sensuous and lyrical.-- Sunday Telegraph Review for THE LOOKING GLASS HOUSE

Moving and original -- Kate Saunders, The Times - Review for THE LOOKING GLASS HOUSE 

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781786492715
Publication date: 05/04/2018
Publisher: Atlantic Books
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781786492715
Publication date: 5th April 2018
Author: Vanessa Tait
Publisher: Atlantic Books
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 400 pages
Genres: Reader Reviewed Books, eBook Favourites, Historical Fiction, Thriller / Suspense,
Categories: Historical romance, Thriller / suspense,

About Vanessa Tait

Vanessa Tait grew up in Gloucestershire. She went to the University of Manchester and completed a Master's degree in Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths College. She is the great-granddaughter of Alice Liddell, the little girl who inspired Lewis Carroll to write Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The Looking Glass House is her first novel, inspired by family treasures and stories of the 'original' Alice.   Click here to read an 'Ask the Author' interview with Vanessa Tait.   Author photo © Gareth Iwan Jones

More About Vanessa Tait

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