...A Good Lie always comes back to haunt you...
Set in London in 1837, this is the story of Sarah Gale, a seamstress and mother, sentenced to hang for her role in the murder of Hannah Brown on the eve of her wedding.
After Sarah petitions for mercy, Edmund Fleetwood is appointed to investigate and consider whether justice has been done. Idealistic, but struggling with his own demons, Edmund is determined to seek out the truth.
Yet Sarah, despite protesting her innocence, refuses to add anything to the evidence given in court: the evidence which convicted her.
At this time in the year I had thought that I had compiled my list of favourite books only to have another come at me right out of the blue. It must be said that this book conjures up the dark and rather dismal world of the Victorian penal system like no other book I've read in a long, long time.
The opening to The Unseeing is quite vivid and you immediately feel immense sorrow for a woman who you suspect is a victim, as yet unknown who, it must be said, starts the book off in a particularly macabre sort of way. The story, as it then develops, has a distinct Dickensian feel to it as both the plot and the content of the story are suitably dark. However, there is a thoughtfulness to the narrative which lulls you into a sense of security, only to have that safeness ripped away as snippets of clues are revealed tantalisingly slowly. From the start of the story I found that my allegiances slipped sideways and as I was taken further and further into a deep web of lies I became engrossed in trying to determine just who, if anyone, was telling me the truth.
The sights and sounds of Victorian London come alive in glorious detail and I think what makes the story so fascinating is that it is based on a true story and the author has obviously done considerable research in order to bring Sarah Gale's story alive, The snippets of information revealed at the start of each chapter come from actual journalistic writings of the time and there are authentic details of Sarah trial and subsequent punishment, which I won't reveal as that would spoil things !
This really is a commendable debut novel from an author who I am sure will only continue to go from strength to strength. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.
Best Read with ...A meat pudding and a pint of London ale...
Anna Mazzola is a criminal justice solicitor, based in London. Whilst THE UNSEEING is her debut, it has won awards including the Brixton Bookjam Debut Novel competition and she came runner up in the 2014 Grazia First Chapter competition judged by Sarah Waters.
For more information visit the author's website by clicking here
My thanks to Tinder Press for my review copy of The Unseeing.