|Release Date: January 25, 2011|
Once in Cambridge, Holdsworth finds Frank in a manic state that is somehow connected to the mysterious death of Sylvia Whichcote, the wife of one of Frank's colleagues at Jerusalem College. As Holdsworth tries to help Frank and unravel the mystery of Sylvia's death, he is drawn deeper into the secretive Cambridge community and encounters scholars, louche young men, enigmatic women, and street urchins in ready supply - many connected to a secret society that meets within the college walls.
My opinion: I have to say, I wasn't at all sure I was going to like this book when I started reading. The story is set in the 1700s, so the language is very proper and a lot of words and phrases were unfamiliar. It starts out with a scene involving the Holy Ghost club, an exclusive club for the well-to-do students at Jerusalem college. The girl that was to be "sacrificed" for the ritual (a virgin who was to be deflowered by the new club member) on this particular night ends up dying. On the same night, Mrs. Whichcote ends up dead, although no one knows how or why. John Holdsworth just lost his son and his wife within several months of each other, and he has almost no money to speak of. He lost his house and then is propositioned by Lady Anne Oldershaw to go to Cambridge and bring her son, Frank, home. Frank is being held there as a psychiatric patient because he claims he saw a ghost. So John gets sucked into the drama and secrets that surround Jerusalem college. It's hard to know who to trust and at the same time, he finds himself falling for a married woman. John doesn't believe in ghosts but there is definitely something suspicious going on at the college. And it does not appear that Mrs. Whichcote committed suicide, so who is the murderer? And maybe, just maybe, ghosts really do exist.
I really liked John Holdsworth; even treated everyone with respect and kept a level head. Everyone respected him too, more-so probably because he was working for Lady Anne Oldershaw. Poor people were most definitely looked down upon and made to feel inferior. I felt bad for Elinor; I'm sure at that time it was unheard of for a woman to leave her husband even if she wanted to. And even if she had been able to, she felt she had nowhere to go. But she too began to have feelings for John that she was ashamed of. I can honestly say the ending caught me by surprise, although the very end does not give much closure to the story. Basically you have to make your own assumptions about what happens to the characters, but sometimes I think that's ok because you can make up your own ideas about their fates.
All in all, not a bad story. Kind of slow reading, but I did find myself getting more and more into the story the farther I read and you get used to the style of writing. You just have to find out what really happened to Mrs. Whichcote!
My rating: 3/5 stars