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  • Writer's pictureSecretWorldOfaBook

| Hester

by Laurie Lico Albanese

Published : 6th October 2022

Publisher : Duckworth Books

Format : Kindle, Audio, Hardback

Genre : Historical Fiction

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* All words highlighted in Grey are affiliate links to either purchase from a range of sellers or links to the authors sites. Where ever possible I will try and provide different versions of the book on all purchase sites.


Glasgow, 1829: Isobel, a young seamstress, and her husband Edward set sail for New England, in flight from his mounting debts and addictions. But, arriving in Salem, Massachusetts, Edward soon takes off again, and Isobel finds herself penniless and alone.

Then she meets Nathaniel, a fledgling writer, and the two are instantly drawn to each other: he is haunted by his ancestors, who sent innocent women to the gallows during the Salem witch trials โ€“ while she is an unusually gifted needleworker, troubled by her own strange talents. Nathaniel and Isobel grow ever closer.

Together, they are dark storyteller and muse; enchanter and enchanted.

But which is which?

My Review

This page-turning and poignant novel beautifully imagines the untold life story of the woman who went down in literary history wearing a scarlet letter

A bewitching tale of desire and ambition, in this story, we follow Isobel, a young girl from Scotland who has inherited the ability to see colours when she hears sounds. She doesn't understand them but associates specific colours with specific moods and feelings. Her mother warned her growing up to hide her talents to avoid being labelled a witch like her ancestor. After her mother's death, Isobel meets an apothecarist and even though older than her she can see a life of happiness and being cared for after so together they marry and whilst he runs his shop she sits upstairs sewing the beautiful colours she can see.

I loved the way the author describes the different colours which Isobel sees and the words which she sees through the colours. I was really drawn in from the very beginning, totally immersed and intrigued about where Isobel's life would take me and also for her ancestor who narrowly escaped being burnt as a witch.

Due to an opium addiction after an injury Isobel and her husband are sent to the poorhouse and after her father bails them out the pair sail to Salem to start a new life. Sadly Salem has its own horrible history of persecuting women that had been accused of being witches.

One thing is very clear, Isobel's line of strong women goes way back and you know this through sporadic chapters from the narrative of her ancestor Isobel Gowdie in 1665.

I loved reading these parts of the story, they are so detailed and personal, really bringing home what women went through just so men could persecute them for being a witch, with no actual evidence whatsoever.

Isobel is a captivating character. She lives in a time when she is supposed to depend on a man, but she sees the New World as her opportunity. Her fateful meeting with Nat Hawthorne is beautiful and the two are pulled together by more than just attraction, both of their families have crossed paths in the past and this I feel really ties them together.

Q. Have you heard of the Scarlett letter?




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I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts on this review, if you have read this book why not drop me a line telling me your thoughts?


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