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The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

“I know what it is to watch my child fall from my body at the hands of a man. And while my story is terrible, every woman has faced a man’s wickedness to some degree. Even you.” A woman with an interest in history, whose husband has been unfaithful to her, goes mudlarking in London, and finds an apothecary's vial. This sets her off on a quest to discover the origins of the vial. Although time has shrouded some of the details, she learns that it came from the well-hidden shop of a woman apothecary who was spurred to provide other women concoctions that would help rid them of the abusive men in their lives, after she herself had been mistreated, at a time when women had few escape routes available to them. However, both the mudlarker and the apothecary decide to change course: the former decides to prioritize herself after her husband drinks eucalyptus oil in an attempt to gain her sympathy while the latter gives up dispensing poisons and chooses to honour the legacy of her mother fr

World Without End by Ken Follett

As the deaths went on and on, and people buried their relatives, neighbors, friends, customers, and employees, the constant horror seemed to brutalize many of them, until no violence or cruelty seemed shocking. People who thought they were about to die lost all restraint and followed their impulses, regardless of the consequences.  Church politics in a fast-changing society and the human fall out of the Black Death in England. Wave after wave of death... In many ways, entirely different from the current CoVID-19 pandemic. In others, eerily similar.

The Century Trilogy by Ken Follett

'A person who breaks a promise diminishes herself. It’s like losing a finger. It’s worse than being paralysed, which is merely physical. Someone whose promises are worthless has a disabled soul.'   The trilogy describes the three main wars of the twentieth century. Book 1 , Fall of Giants , is about great powers falling: not just empires but also patriarchy; women began to win the vote in the early 20th century. However, WWI and how the collective guilt that led to it was somehow all funneled on to Germany once the war was done dominates the tale. Who knows? Minus the vicious retribution which the victors exacted, there may never have been created the situation which led to WWII. Book 2 , Winter of the World delves into plans for peace, the failure of the League of Nations, the fiasco that was WWII, the compromises made to ensure the survival of a nascent UN, and the many arguments used to support or fight various ideologies.  The thread of the Russian Revolution runs through

That Lass o' Lowrie's by Frances Hodgson Burnett

So that the mines were worked, and their profits made, it did not matter for the rest. They were used to casualties, so well used to them in fact, that unless a fearful loss of life occurred, they were not alarmed or even roused. As to the injuries done to a man's health, and so on—they had not time to inquire into such things. There was danger in all trades, for the matter of that. An engineer at a coal mine falls in love with a pit girl, and ultimately manages to persuade her to marry him. The girl herself is level-headed and does what she believes to be right, standing aloof from most others and having the courage to take unpopular paths. Despite looking at the world through a decidedly moralistic and privileged lens, the author deals with issues of women's rights, class discrimination, socially mobility, and labour rights all within the framework of a romance. Her writing is as engaging as ever although her very liberal use of dialect makes the work somewhat hard to read. 

The Undoing Dance by Srividya Natarajan

I had wavered between their worlds and their truths, and had found that just as I declared my loyalty, the truth had shifted, and the world had changed. I have always been uncomfortable in my own skin, as if I was wearing a hair shirt made to somebody else's measurements. I stopped at every moral crossroads, paralysed, unable to choose.   A woman from a Devadasi family marries a Brahmin man: The Undoing Dance, which draws from the author learning from Kittappa Pillai , tells the tale of worlds in flux, of what it means to embody one's art, & of how change tears down as much as it builds up.

The Music Room by Namita Devidayal

'I don't know if you have achieved name and fame, tai, but your music has definitely reached the gods.' A woman writes of learning music from Dhondutai Kulkarni, a classical musician who, despite her prodigious talent, never quite became as well known as she might have become perhaps, in part, because she was devoted and uncompromising when she came to her art, not watering it down to suit audience sensibilities.

Music Macabre by Sarah Rayne

The lady broke away from them, but in her headlong flight she missed her footing and tumbled straight over the parapet's edge, plummeting to her death in the yard below, her cloak billowing out as she fell, like the wings and the plumage of an exotic scarlet and black bird of paradise.   (Phineas Fox #4) A singer receives three unpublished pieces of music by Liszt after his death and uses one of them as a snatch of music that women might be able to use to warn each other of Jack the Ripper being in the area, and teaches the music along with lyrics to the community at local pubs along with a young woman who works for her. The woman's father was abusive, and after his daughter fails to kill him, the singer arranges for him to be locked up in an asylum, the same asylum in which Jack the Ripper is detained. The asylum, a tunnel house from which inmates never emerge, burns down letting out both the abusive father and the serial killer. The singer is believed to have murdered the kil