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3.32  ·  Rating Details ·  593 Ratings  ·  103 Reviews

Learner’s The Witch of Cologne is an erotically-charged novel of people swept inexorably along by events they could not control. In Soul, Learner relates the story of Lavinia and Julia Huntington, passionate women trapped in emotional whirlpools that threaten to drown them and everyone they love.

In 19th century Britain, Lavinia is married to an older man who seems to appr

Hardcover, 480 pages
Published September 27th 2006 by HarperCollins (Australia) (first published 2006)
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(showing 1-30)
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Shannon (Giraffe Days)
I'm not a fan of this cover, I'll say that right off the bat. It's not too awful, but it's not great either. A bit tacky maybe? It doesn't do the book justice, anyway. The parallels to Shakespeare are too obvious, some excited editor's idea of a clever cover. The book doesn't deserve something so glaringly obvious.

Tobsha Learner is probably best well-known for her book of erotic short stories, Quiver, and her previous novel, The Witch of Cologne - neither of which I've read, but I'd sure like to
Laura Martinelli
I am a sucker for an intriguing cover. Let’s be honest here, the cover does play a large part in what attracts us to books. It doesn’t have to be “Ooo pretty!,” just eye-catching. Soul caught my eye several times at work when we still had it in stock at work, and I was intrigued enough to rescue it. Add to the fact that the back synopsis sounded at least halfway interesting (and the title felt like there was a hint of a reincarnation theme to it), and thus it found a new home on my shelves.

What to say, what to say?

I truly did not like this book, the premise, the characters (mostly), nor the writing. But, the image from the very first scene pulled me in just enough to get me to read all the way through, hoping for more of the same. It came in bits and pieces, and so I was quite disappointed.

I should also give some warnings: this book is a romance (that may be enough to stop many people). The story involves "justified" murder. The story includes a few fairly graphic sex scenes (I've
May 20, 2008 Hara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Part historical fiction, part bodice-ripper melodrama, this strange book is a page-turner despite itself. The book involves two parallel stories of women, one a genetist in contemporary Los Angeles and the other her grandmother in London in the 19th century. Their stories are connected by parallels in their tragic relationships with men as well as through their genes. The book's ambitions are not realized, and much of it is forced and predictable, but I still kept reading and thoroughly enjoyed ...more
Bill Purdy
Oct 02, 2008 Bill Purdy rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: People I hate
Shelves: abandoned
Excruciating. Thematically obvious and written with an amazingly leaden hand, Soul finally lost me for good when it referred to a female character's genitalia as her "sex." As in "His hand cupped her sex and was enveloped in her moistness." Yeah. Soul is that kind of book. For some of you, this is a good thing. But it is most certainly not a good thing for this guy, who was expecting an intriguing and thought-provoking exploration into the workings of the human mind. Eck.
2.5 stars - Metaphorosis Reviews

At the close of the 20th century, Julia Huntington is searching for the genetic basis of serenity - more precisely, why some soldiers suffer post-traumatic stress and some don't. In the 19th century, her ancestor is struggling to find purpose in her life. Both face difficulties in their marriages, and find solace in other men.

I downloaded this free from Tor some years back. I was under the strong impression that it was SFF. I dipped in, didn't care for it, and set
Catherine Fitzsimmons
Sep 07, 2012 Catherine Fitzsimmons rated it it was ok
Still working my way through the backlog of free ebooks from before the website opened. This is a dual story about a geneticist struggling through a new study and coming to grips with her husband suddenly leaving her, and her great-grandmother’s rise in Victorian England from rural Ireland to fashionable London as she catches the fancy of an ex-soldier turned scientist.

To start with, for anyone who might be tempted to pick up this book, I would like to point out that this was published b
Chloe Stam
Apr 30, 2016 Chloe Stam rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I found it emotional reading this book. There is a great sense of impending doom for the main characters and you see events unfolding without any sense of control about them - a train slowly derailing. As a woman I felt the pain of the main characters acutely when cruel events happened to them that were outside of their control. You wished you could reach into the book and help them somehow. But Lavinia and Julia are far from shrinking violets. They are driven and intelligent and capable of more ...more
Jaime Westfall
Mar 31, 2010 Jaime Westfall rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up in an Airport on my way from Oakland to St. Louis. For two reasons 1. I liked the cover and 2. To avoid having to speak to my boyfriend at the time with whom I was travelling begrudgingly for work. This is one of those rare finds a book that you think is a throw away read to be donated to the local nursing home library once you finish it and return home or maybe left in a hotel room to share with the next person who stays there. I however could not put this book down, and I ...more
May 02, 2009 Brie rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009, chick-lit
That was such a depressing read. I don't even know how I picked this book up, but it was so upsetting watching one intelligent woman fall apart over her husband, who didn't deserve ANYTHING, and the other strong woman watching her life fall apart because her husband was following society and married her but fell in love with another man. I wanted to cry reading this because it was THAT UPSETTING. I mean, hell, back in the day, if you tried to defy your husband, you were crazy, and nowadays, if y ...more
Emma  Kaufmann
Jan 10, 2009 Emma Kaufmann rated it it was amazing
A vivid erotic thriller that has two stories from different time periods running side by side. In the 21st century, a geneticist - Julia - is trying to find out whether people who kill without remorse are born or made and if they are made whether she can isolate this gene.

The other storyline is set in the 19th century, where Julia's great-great-grandmother Lavinia marries the man she loved, is bitterly betrayed by him and is later tried for his murder. We are left wondering, did Lavinia do it? C
Nov 10, 2009 Red rated it it was ok
Started reading this because it was a free Kindle download from TOR. Didn't know anything about it. After several chapters I read the jacket info at and decided I don't really care about finishing it. Especially since the only character I like so far is going to die pretty soon. Too much good stuff out there to waste time on stuff that doesn't interest me.
Sara Hemenway
I read this a few years ago but I remember feeling somewhat unsatisfied when I finished. I kept reading it because I wanted to see what happened, but then once I got there I didn't feel any better about having spent the time reading it. It is now in my box of books to give away.
Krystina Schuler
I liked this book overall, but it wasn't as good as I had hoped when I picked it up. There are two separate stories - one of the great-grandmother's Victorian London life and that of the granddaughter protagonist in the present day. Both are strong female characters, who are also somewhat self-absorbed and a bit naive. The male protagonists are abominable. They both frustrated me in different ways, and, honestly, I can't decide who was worse.

While I enjoyed both stories, there were largely uncon
Nov 04, 2010 Kelly rated it liked it
This book was really weird. I became obsessed with it early on, but could not define the mania that kept me turning the pages. I felt sympathy for the wrong characters and became heartbroken when one in particular was revealed for who they really were. But perhaps this was the intent of the author. The shifting points of view disturbed me. I often had to reread a paragraph to be sure whose thoughts I’d been party to and the small breaks in the narrative didn’t always clearly suggest a shift. Som ...more
Very good (like 4.5 stars good). Nature vs. Nurture. Free will vs. genetics. Pure logic vs. the heart wanting what it wants. The story is told in two threads. Julia, our modern day geneticist & Lavinia, her great-great grandmother. The women's lives unfold for us as their marriages unravel & the aftermath of the events follow. I very much enjoyed that both women were scientifically minded & took their work seriously. I felt for Lavinia when she was cut off from hers & was glad Ju ...more
Dec 13, 2009 kingshearte rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
In nineteenth-century Britain, young Lavinia Huntington's older husband appreciates her lively intellect and seems eager to extend his wife's education from his study to their bedroom. Lavinia absorbs all he has to teach and glories in the birth of their son.

In twenty-first-century Los Angeles, Julia Huntington studies the human genome, seeking the origins of human emotion. As passionate about her marriage to her beloved Klaus as she is about her life's work, Julia is delighted to discover that
Tracy Dobbs
Another free Kindle book...

It just wasn't what I hoped it would be. The story moves back and forth between two periods of time. In one strand of the book, we have a modern, female geneticist, Julia, who is studying a possible genetic link for people who can kill without remorse(defense department funded to see if they can screen soldiers to remove/reduce PTSD). The first we see of her in the book is a scene, set in Afghanistan, in which Julia and her soldier escorts are ambushed. The two soldier
Aug 31, 2009 Thomas rated it it was ok
Shelves: relationships
In my quest to understand and possibly appreciate the appeal of the romance novel, I read "Soul" on the recommendation of a female friend. Having read "Dangerous Men, Adventurous Women," I was on the lookout for themes the reverberate through the romance genre. The appeal of such novels is in the details, the emotions, the relationships of the characters. The plot makes little difference. The heroine, her thoughts, feelings, and actions are the real story.

There are two heroines in this novel, an
Jul 23, 2011 Michelle rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book tells two interrelated stories of Lavinia in 19th century England and her great-grandchild, Julia in the current day. Julia is a geneticist studying the genetic origins of anger and the ability to deal with violence without post-traumatic stress. Lavinia is the daughter of a Protestant minister in Ireland who encourages her scientific and naturalist abilities. Both women experience a violent and traumatic encounter: Lavinia escapes an attempted rape as a child by stabbing the boy with ...more
Pamela Pickering
May 20, 2008 Pamela Pickering rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
Only made it about 160 pages into this thing and decided it wasn't for me. Here are my impressions based on those 160 pages. I only found one main character likeable in this thing, Lavinia. Oddly enough, having found her the only likeable character I just didn't find her storyline in the book necessary. I understand the author was trying to draw a comparison between the two characters but I don't think it was really necessary for me. The inclusion of Lavinia's story just become filler for me. At ...more
Feb 07, 2009 Julia rated it really liked it
This book follows 2 parallel stories that are 150 years apart. The female character in the present time era is a descendant of the female we are following in the 1850's. The 2 women suffer the same shock when their husbands abandon them. Their intense passion and powerful love turns into painful hatred. Present day Julia is a scientist and has a government assignment to study the origins of human emotion, such as can a person have the genetic makeup to commit a crime or murder and not have remor ...more
L-J Johnson
May 19, 2010 L-J Johnson rated it liked it
Two parallel stories of two women of the same family - Lavinia, a young married Irishwoman living in Victorian England and Julia, her great-great-granddaughter, a geneticist working on a Defense Department project in L.A. Both are wronged by their husbands and it's a story of nurture vs nature (among other things) as they fight against/give in to their instincts regarding their betrayals. I was very involved as the stories unfolded, so I don't want to give too much away and ruin it for someone e ...more
Heather Perkins
Jul 14, 2009 Heather Perkins rated it really liked it
A good look into what it is that can allow some people to kill without remorse and guilt and whether or not it is genetics that can cause people to be murderers.
The switching back and forth between the two storylines can be a bit much. The science of the book was interesting and something to contemplate as more and more of human traits are assigned a number of genes in our DNA as the cause. If we know that our genes can cause us to behave a certain way are we then self fated or does choice still
Apr 10, 2012 Mila rated it liked it
One of those books where it's hard to like the characters, which doesn't bother me but which I know some people find distasteful. I like seeing through the eyes of someone else, even if they don't make the choices I would--both Lavinia in the Victorian era and modern Julia fall into that category for me.

I like Learner's voice and I enjoy meditations on nature vs. nurture. However, while Learner's opinion on the matter is clear by the end, I would have preferred that it feel more applicable to hu
Julie Christine
Set in 19thC Britain and 20thC Los Angeles, this is a juicy Gothic romance and intriguing medical thriller. A geneticist impassioned by her work is seeking to isolate the gene that produces sociopathic killers. Her research brings her to the story of an ancestor married to a scientist with a devastating secret. Both women deal with the betrayal of lovers and the struggle to succeed in fields dominated by men.

I wasn't surprised to learn that Tobsha Learner is a screenwriter- this novel often rea
Jun 16, 2009 Amber rated it liked it
This book was hard for me to follow at times as it went back and forth and there was way more sex than I had bargained for, but it was one my mom picked up at the library for $1.00 I think, and I was desperate for something to read. The premise of the two women whose lives were connected, but separated by so many years was very interesting. After looking at the descriptions of some of her other book on here, I think that was probably fairly tame for her writing. Not a bad read, but not my usual ...more
Feb 14, 2011 gaemarie rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
Had this book since 2004. I saw it reading by a class lady in the airport and I thought I would want the same book. So I asked 2 books of T. Learner as a birthday gift from a bookworm Aussie uncle who immediately had it shipped in time for my birthday.

I was putting off the reading book every time I read the first 2 chapters. I thought I wasn't ready for some heavy prose then. And it paid off because I was able to appreciate the whole book. It took me a long time to finish because I was savoring
Jessica Audrey
Oct 07, 2012 Jessica Audrey rated it really liked it
Excellent book. I liked it so much more than The Witch of Cologne. My only gripe is the use of British terms by her American characters (Americans call people, they don't ring them; use flashlights not torches; parking lots not car parks; asphalt not tarmac, etc).

Wonderful main characters! Raised such interesting questions regarding nature vs nurture, genetic predisposition and free will, the effect personal liberty (or the lack thereof) has on free will. Still thinking about it weeks after fin
B. Zedan
Jul 11, 2008 B. Zedan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Folks who are cool with fictional science that is also pushy
Shelves: tor-downloads
So this is 'fictional science' more than science fiction. Pretend genetic research in an (overly time-stamped) 2002 that is shadowed by events in the mid-late 1800's does not speculative, nor science fiction make. Not a problem unless that is what one is expecting, I suppose.

But like I parenthesised, way too time-stamped. Who are these people and events you are referencing, totally dating and damaging your prose with, m'dear? Oh wait, they are so obvious I cannot miss them. The past bits are bet
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Aka T.S. Learner

Tobsha Learner was born and raised in England; she now divides her time between Australia, the UK and the USA. She is well known in Australia as an author and playwright.
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