Dorothea and Ruth. Prison visitor and prisoner. Powerful and powerless. Dorothea Truelove is young, wealthy and beautiful. Ruth Butterham is young, poor and awaiting trial for murder.
When Dorothea’s charitable work leads her to Oakgate Prison, she is delighted with the chance to explore her fascination with phrenology and test her hypothesis that the shape of a person’s skull can cast a light on their darkest crimes. But when she meets teenage seamstress Ruth, she is faced with another theory: that it is possible to kill with a needle and thread. For Ruth attributes her crimes to a supernatural power inherent in her stitches.
The story Ruth has to tell of her deadly creations – of bitterness and betrayal, of death and dresses – will shake Dorothea’s belief in rationality and the power of redemption.
Can Ruth be trusted? Is she mad, or a murderer?
My gosh, The Corset was such a cool, edgy and randomly horrifying tale, such descriptive beauty to be found here wrapped around a story that is both scary and entirely emotive.
Dorothea visits women in jail – she is sensible, pragmatic and intelligent, using the visits to gain knowledge for her scientific research. But when she meets Ruth, whose life has been dark and twisted, who believes she holds within her a terrible power, Dorothea slowly begins to question all that she once believed..
I loved this. The mystery of the truth behind Ruth’s case is so cleverly woven, at the same time we get a horrifying and authentic glimpse at the social hierarchy of the time – the abyss between those that have and those that have not, the casual cruelty inflicted on the lower classes, the lack of choices for women of any circumstance. Dorothea’s story is just as absorbing as Ruth’s, the challenges she faces are also many. Danger lurks around every corner and The Corset is both a delightful and an emotionally challenging read.
This is visceral, heart stopping writing, totally absorbing the reader, a darkly unsettling undertone runs throughout and doesn’t loosen it’s grip until that very last page – not even then really, there are certain scenes in this novel that will never leave me.
The brilliant plotting and the author’s ability to immerse you into the story meant that I was randomly blindsided on occasion, which was hugely satisfying, when I actually don’t expect the unexpected it’s the icing on the reading cake for me.
Brilliant from opening to closing, The Corset is incredible. What else can I say?