The Nature of Monsters

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The Nature of Monsters

by Clare Clark

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | October 2, 2013 | Trade Paperback

The Nature of Monsters is rated 4.5 out of 5 by 2.
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.

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 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 Eliza never allowed to look her veiled master in the face or go into the study where he pursues his experiments? It is only on her visits to the Huguenot bookseller who supplies her master''s scientific tomes that she realizes the nature of his obsession. And she knows she has to act to save not just the child but Mary and herself.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 400 pages, 3.15 × 2.09 × 0.39 in

Published: October 2, 2013

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0156034085

ISBN - 13: 9780156034081

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wonderful. Clare Clark created a truly atmospheric setting for The Nature of Monsters. Her version of the 18th century London is dark and cruel, filled with hateful people indifferent to each other’s suffering. It is here, where apothecary Grayson Black lives. He dedicates his life and the last bits of money to science, studying the mysterious effects of maternal impression. Black is driven by the desire to be immortalized in the academic world and the belief that he too was touched by the syndrome while still in his mother’s womb. The main character of the novel, however, is Eliza Tally - a crude and ill-tempered girl, who gives in to her carnal desires and gets pregnant by a man who has no intentions to marry her. Eliza hates her unborn child with passion and tries everything to get rid of it, but the baby seems to desperately cling to life. To her relief, she is sent to work for Mr. Black, and who else but the apothecary can help her to dispose of the unwanted offspring? But when her calculations backfire, Eliza has no choice but to face the monsters lurking within herself and those around her. I loved the novel, even though it was very hard to sympathize with Eliza in the beginning. In the first chapters, she was portrayed just plain selfish. She cared for nothing, and blamed her mother for all of her misfortunes. However, as the story progressed, Eliza matured and learned to love. I found it a little hard to pinpoint the exact reasons behind her transformations, like her affection for Mary - the fellow maid. Maybe that’s why I can’t really give this book a 5. But I admit that the sinister mad scientist and the gloomy streets of London, along with amazing narrative style, won me over in the long run. Great read!
Date published: 2013-10-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Clare Clark is monstrously good As a fan of Clark's first novel The Great Stink, I was concerned that the second novel wouldn't live up to my expectations. That is not the case. The Nature of Monsters is as good. I also liked Michael Cox's The Meaning of Night, and think the Dickens fans and fans The Great Stink fans will love this novel. Tough-nut Eliza is sent off to work for an apothecary, who will help rid her of her unborn child and protect her reputation. Neither is at the forefront of the apothecary's mind. He is studying maternal impression--how a mother's actions can affect her unborn child, in particular how one can create a monster or at minimum a medical oddity. The medical practices and scientific study in the novel are alarming, and yet, these types of study led to modern science as we know it today. I love how Clark can interweave cutting (in the case of The Great Stink) and medical experimentation with a historical setting that is familiar and yet not.
Date published: 2013-10-28

– More About This Product –

The Nature of Monsters

by Clare Clark

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 400 pages, 3.15 × 2.09 × 0.39 in

Published: October 2, 2013

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0156034085

ISBN - 13: 9780156034081

About the Book

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. 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 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 Eliza never allowed to look her veiled master in the face or go into the study where he pursues his experiments? It is only on her visits to the Huguenot bookseller who supplies her master's scientific tomes that she realizes the nature of his obsession. And she knows she has to act to save not just the child but Mary and herself.

Read from the Book

i 1718 Afterwards, when I knew that I had not loved him at all, the shock was all in my stomach, like the feeling when you miscount going upstairs in the dark and climb a step that is not there. It was not my heart that was upset but rather my balance. I had not yet learned that it was possible to desire a man so and not love him a little. Oh, I longed for him. When he was not there, the hours passed so slowly that it seemed that the sun had fallen asleep in the sky. I would wait at the window for whole days for the first glimpse of him. Every time a figure rounded the corner out of the trees, my heart leapt, my skin feverish with hope even as my eyes determined it to be someone to whom he bore not the slightest resemblance. Even Slack the butcher, a man of no more than five feet in height and several times that around the middle, whose arms were so pitifully short they could barely insert the tips of his fingers into the pockets of his coat. I turned my face away hurriedly then, my cheeks hot, caught between shame and laughter. How that beer-soaked dumpling would have licked his lips to imagine the tumbling in my belly at the sight of him, the hot rush of longing between my thighs that made my fingers curl into my palms and set the nape of my neck prickling with delicious anticipation. In the dusty half-light of the upper room, breathless against the wall, I lifted my skirts then and pressed my hand against the slick muskiness within. The lips parted instantly, the swollen m
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From the Publisher

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.

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 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 Eliza never allowed to look her veiled master in the face or go into the study where he pursues his experiments? It is only on her visits to the Huguenot bookseller who supplies her master''s scientific tomes that she realizes the nature of his obsession. And she knows she has to act to save not just the child but Mary and herself.

From the Jacket

MAIN SELECTION, BOOK-OF-THE-MONTH CLUB FEATURED ALTERNATE SELECTION, QUALITY PAPERBACK BOOK CLUB andDOUBLEDAY BOOK CLUB {Sara - not sure whether to put this book club stuff on front flap or here - see what you think} PRAISE FOR THE GREAT STINK "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 (Editors Choice) "Heres 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

About the Author

CLARE CLARK is the author of four novels, including The Great Stink, which was long-listed for the Orange Prize and was named a Washington Post Best Book of the Year, and Savage Lands, which was long-listed for the Orange Prize in 2010. Her work has been translated into five languages. She lives in London.

Editorial Reviews

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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