The Nature of Monsters

The Nature of Monsters

3.14 (1,530 ratings by Goodreads)
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It is 1718 and, in a small parish near Newcastle, Eliza Tally, a headstrong girl of 15, embarks on a reckless love affair that will prove her undoing. When her lover casts her off, denying their union, she is forced to travel to London, a city that attracts and alarms her in equal measure. There she takes up a position in the house of an apothecary, Grayson Black, whom she trusts to salvage what remains of her reputation. From the highly-acclaimed author of The Great Stink comes a gloriously-written tale of consuming passions and obsessions. Set against the clamour and roar of eighteenth-century London, The Nature of Monsters brings vividly to life a world where the line separating science and madness is dangerously blurred, and where a single life counts for little in the relentless pursuit of progress.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 400 pages
  • 128 x 202 x 26mm | 272g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0141018348
  • 9780141018348
  • 995,771

Review quote

PRAISE FOR "THE NATURE OF MONSTERS""" "As a storyteller, Clark is endowed with verve and intelligence, but her larger gift, dazzlingly in evidence throughout both her fine novels, lies in the originality of her imagination. She gives us a world that feels alive and intense, magnificently raw."--"The New York Times Book Review" "The pleasures here are many, and one hopes this latest excursion into the underside of historic London won't be her last."--"BookForum"
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Back cover copy

{Sara - not sure whether to put this book club stuff on front flap or here - see what you think}
"In rich Dickensian detail, Clark creates the whole city teeming with life and decay, but she keeps the focus on a few fascinating characters in desperate straits . . . it's a rich work of history and a gripping exploration of the unmentionable currents that run beneath the surface of our lives--and it reeks of talent."--"The Washington Post Book World" (Best Book of the Year)
""The Great Stink "is a crackerjack historical novel that combines the creepy intrigue of Caleb Carr, the sensory overload of Peter Ackroyd and the academic curiosity of A.S. Byatt."--"Los Angeles Times"
"A captivating historical thriller."--"People" (4 stars)
"Clark's triumph is that she makes us see and smell everything we politely pretend not to, and she even manages to give the miasma its own kind of beauty . . . the book is literally breathtaking."--"The New York Times Book Review" (Editor's Choice)
"Here's a talent to watch." -"The Seattle Times
"An efficient blend of limpid storytelling, psychological acumen and Dickensian sympathy for the underdog, this fine first novel brings Victorian London to life . . . With prose this inviting and this sleek, gentle reader, you'll want to dive right in." --"The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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Flap copy

"Clare Clark writes with the eyes of a historian and the soul of a novelist." - Amanda Foreman, author of "Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire
1666: The Great Fire of London sweeps through the streets and a heavily pregnant woman flees the flames. A few months later she gives birth to a child disfigured by a red birthmark--and no wonder, since everyone knows that mothers who do not protect themselves from shocking sights could turn their unborn children into monsters.
1718: Sixteen-year-old Eliza Tally sees the gleaming dome of St. Paul's Cathedral rising above a rebuilt city. She arrives as an apothecary's maid, a position hastily arranged to shield the father of her unborn child-a wealthy merchant's son--from scandal. But why is the apothecary so eager to welcome her when he already has a maid, a half-wit named Mary? Why is she never allowed to look her veiled master in the face or go into the study where he pursues his experiments? And why is she having terrifyingly vivid dreams of ferocious dogs, her greatest fear?
On one of her visits to the friendly Huguenot bookseller who keeps the apothecary supplied with scientific tomes, she finally realizes the nature of her master's obsession. And when she learns that Mary too is pregnant, she knows she has to act to save not just the child but Mary and herself.
From the highly acclaimed author of "The Great Stink" comes a consuming, passionate, darkly humorous tale set amid the clamor and chaos of eighteenth-century London.
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About Clare Clark

Clare Clark was born in London in 1967. She is married with two children and lives in London.
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Rating details

1,530 ratings
3.14 out of 5 stars
5 10% (155)
4 28% (436)
3 36% (549)
2 17% (262)
1 8% (128)
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