Notice my start to finish date? Yeah. It seriously took me THAT LONG to understand what I was reading. It wasn't necessarily challenging but I kind of felt like I was reading on an acid trip. IF I were to go on an acid trip, it'd be similar to this. *Cue Twilight Zone music now*
Venetia Digby is infatuated with her beauty. Poets write sonnets about her. Artists beg to paint her delicate features. Men long to touch and kiss her. Women want to be her. Is it any wonder she's so overly obsessed with her looks? Sir Kenelm Digby, her husband, is an adventuring alchemist. He's enamored by his lovely wife just the way she is. It is true that she has aged and her beauty is fading. Venetia has also become pleasantly plump. So she asks her husband to whip up a potion that will help restore her beauty. Beauty defines Venetia. It's who she is and without her trademark glamour, Venetia feels she won't be loved. Sir Kenelm, of course, refuses to concoct a potion. He tells her the remedy she requests is too dangerous. Venetia wants Viper Wine and she'll do what she must to get it, even if she has to find another alchemist. Enter Lancelot Choice. He's the equivalent of today's callous, local drug pusher and he'll do what it takes to sell his poison. It's a tragic tale. Sir Kenelm is wrapped up in his own world of adventure, explorations, and book hoarding. (My kind of man!) He's too busy doing his thing and fails to notice his wife's descent into madness and addiction. Obviously, the Viper Wine drug contains opiates AND paralyzing snake venom but, like today's cosmetic procedures, it's what all the lovely ladies of the King's court are secretly drinking.
Bottom line is this, when the story concentrated on Venetia it was rather good. When Sir Kenelm entered the picture it was just plain looney. What's going on here? The story takes place in 1633, based on actual folk. One minute I'm reading about Kenelm giving a speech to a crowd and the next Marilyn Monroe is in the audience of attendees. WAIT. What?! Did I drink Viper Wine? Kenelm also gets radio transmissions from the future. In his head. That he talks to. Come again? Yes. That's right. I was clueless at times and would shake my head in confusion and begin flipping backwards in the book to find what I'd missed. Was Sir Kenelm Digby a seer? I'm just going to say I was immensely confused. This book had some weird stuff going on that I could make zero sense of. I barely understood the conclusion. Again, to recap, Venetia's story was great. Sir Kenelm's part was way out there. Way, way out there. Sorry. I almost didn't finish this one. Good thing I'm completely anal. Two stars for making me dazed and confused.
*Thanks to Blogging for Books for sending me a beautiful hardcover copy in exchange for a review.