Blending the past with the future, Hermione Eyre’s book is filled with clever ideas but becomes increasingly muddled that it is difficult to understand what the message of the book is. 

The book tells the story of the celebrated beauty Venetia Stanley, who during her life has inspired poetry and paintings. But now that she is heading towards middle age, Venetia begins to worry that her looks are beginning to fade and soon discovers the potent beauty potion called viper wine – but what is the true cost of beauty.

Filled with contemporary ideas and references, it is a historical fiction book with a twist that reveals how our obsession with beauty has ultimately the power to destroy us – no matter what era we live in.

It is a great concept for a book to mix the past with the future, but Eyre’s book tends to get a bit muddled and confusing – despite the wonderful poetic and almost science fiction writing style that Eyre has adopted for the story.

The further on you read, and the more contemporary references there are, the plot becomes slightly more disjointed and it doesn’t quite make sense.

However, it does have a great pace and energy about it that draws you in from the very first page and grabs the attention of the reader.

There are plenty of different characters that are well developed but could have perhaps developed even further so that the reader can get an even better impression of what their thoughts and opinions are relating to beauty – except the obvious.

It feels as though the book could have gone into more depth on what the meaning of beauty really is as well as examining what the cost of beauty is in terms of our obsession with it.

Venetia is quite clearly obsessed with her looks right from the start of the story and it comes across that she is actually more vulnerable than vain – which is down to the fact that others have been praising her beauty for years and now that her looks are fading she feels as though she has nothing else to offer to the world.

Meanwhile her time travelling husband Kenelm Digby tries to convince her that he loves her for who she is –  no matter what she looks like but at the same time understands her need and tries to help her in anyway that he can.

Sadly, it is (for this reader anyway) a difficult book to appreciate – unless you like a blend of historical fiction with pop culture and science fiction. It is however, a refreshing and contemporary novel filled with plenty of interesting ideas.

Viper Wine is available to buy and download from Amazon


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