Blood Doctor

by Barbara Vine

Penguin Canada | June 3, 2003 | Mass Market Paperbound

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The First Lord Nanther clearly hoped to be the subject of an admiring posthumous biography. Having built a name for himself as Queen Victoria’s favoured physician—expert on blood diseases, and particularly the royal disease of hemophilia—he fastidiously set about recording the details of his eminent life, carefully cataloguing every significant letter, diary and medical essay that he’d written, apparently offering himself up as an open book.

But when the present Lord Nanther begins to research the life of his great-grandfather, he soon realizes there is little of interest in his ancestor’s dry-as-dust account. Instead, he begins to suspect that these old records conceal more than they reveal as he comes upon mysteries and anomalies in almost every decade of his great-grandfather’s personal life. As Martin Nanther begins to catch glimpses of “some monstrous, quite appalling things” in the blood doctor’s past, he also realizes that Henry died a guilty man—carrying a horrific secret to the grave.

Set against the current reform of Britain’s House of Lords, which Martin Nanther witnesses at first hand with a kind of fascinated detachment, The Blood Doctor weaves effortlessly between the past and the present, public life and private life. The result is a superbly satisfying novel about ambition, obsession and bad blood.

“A story that glistens, sticks and unnerves.”—The Edmonton Journal

Format: Mass Market Paperbound

Published: June 3, 2003

Publisher: Penguin Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0141009160

ISBN - 13: 9780141009162

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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Blood Doctor

Blood Doctor

by Barbara Vine

Format: Mass Market Paperbound

Published: June 3, 2003

Publisher: Penguin Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0141009160

ISBN - 13: 9780141009162

Read from the Book

Blood is going to be its theme. I've made that decision long before I shall even begin writing the book. Blood in its metaphysical sense as the conductor of an inherited title, and blood as the transmitter of hereditary disease. Genes we'd say now, but not in the nineteenth century when Henry Nanther was born and grew up and achieved a kind of greatness, not then. It was blood then. Good blood, bad blood, blue blood, it's in the blood, in cold blood, blood and thunder, blood thicker than water, blood money, blood relations, flesh and blood, written in blood — the list of phrases is endless. How many of them am I going to find apply to my great-grandfather?I'm not sure if I'd have liked him, and up till now it's been essential for me to like, or at least admire and respect, the subject of the biographies I write. Perhaps, this time, it's only going to be necessary for me to be interested in him. And that won't be difficult. It's only because I found out that he'd kept a mistress for nine years and, when his fiancée died, married her sister (giving her, incidentally, the same engagement ring) that I decided to write his life at all.Of course I knew, we all knew, he'd been an eminent medical man, the acknowledged expert of his day on diseases of the blood and Physician-in-Ordinary to Queen Victoria. I knew that for his services Victoria had given him the peerage I've inherited, and that he took his seat in the House of Lords in 1896. But although he was distinguished in his day,
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From the Publisher

The First Lord Nanther clearly hoped to be the subject of an admiring posthumous biography. Having built a name for himself as Queen Victoria’s favoured physician—expert on blood diseases, and particularly the royal disease of hemophilia—he fastidiously set about recording the details of his eminent life, carefully cataloguing every significant letter, diary and medical essay that he’d written, apparently offering himself up as an open book.

But when the present Lord Nanther begins to research the life of his great-grandfather, he soon realizes there is little of interest in his ancestor’s dry-as-dust account. Instead, he begins to suspect that these old records conceal more than they reveal as he comes upon mysteries and anomalies in almost every decade of his great-grandfather’s personal life. As Martin Nanther begins to catch glimpses of “some monstrous, quite appalling things” in the blood doctor’s past, he also realizes that Henry died a guilty man—carrying a horrific secret to the grave.

Set against the current reform of Britain’s House of Lords, which Martin Nanther witnesses at first hand with a kind of fascinated detachment, The Blood Doctor weaves effortlessly between the past and the present, public life and private life. The result is a superbly satisfying novel about ambition, obsession and bad blood.

“A story that glistens, sticks and unnerves.”—The Edmonton Journal

About the Author

Barbara Vine, the pen-name of Ruth Rendell, has published eleven previous novels, many of which were award-winning international bestsellers. Ruth Rendell sits in the House of Lords as a Labour peer. She lives in Maida Vale, London.