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The Maiden by Kate Foster

The Maiden is a novel based on historical true-life events. In 1679, a young woman was executed in Edinburgh for the murder of her lover and uncle (by marriage, not blood), Lord James Forrester. He was found murdered under a sycamore tree on the grounds of his home, Corstorphine Castle, on the day of the village Lammas Fair.

The title, The Maiden, refers to the guillotine-type execution machine that was used to behead some criminals in this era.

Kate Foster has taken the historical fact of this case and has woven a page-telling, utterly compelling novel as we follow the fate of young Lady Christian and also a fictional young prostitute, Violet, and their possible connection with the powerful but manipulative Lord James Forrester.

Only a year before the murder, Lady Christian was newly married to a fabric merchant and living a life of privilege and respectability. But her uncle has always kept an eye on her, and he senses she is unhappy in her new marriage…

Meanwhile, Violet is all alone after her family died, and her only way to survive is by working at a brothel. But then the opportunity comes to get paid to spend a month at Lord James’ home, secreted in a turret away from his ailing ill wife, on call for all Lord James might require of her. She finds she likes living in this unexpected life of luxury…

Both women are brought to life in this fascinating account that takes us from the Tolbooth Jail to the fine homes of nobility to a seedy brothel.

While we will never really know the absolute truth behind the murder of Lord James, this novel imagines two women caught in a web of deceit and betrayal, and Kate Foster has imagined a story that is extremely believable while still being a fabulous piece of fiction.

Reviewer: Karen McMillan

Macmillan Publishers


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