Jean's Reviews > Poison

Poison by Kathryn Harrison
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's review
Apr 12, 2011

really liked it

This very unusual historical novel illuminates the plight of women in Spain during the Inquisition. The principal characters share the same birthday and both are doomed. Francesca, the erotic daughter of a silk farmer is accused of witchcraft. Maria, a French princess married to the revolting (and impotent) king of Spain gets the blame for being barren. The book is filled with fascinating information about silk worms, cures for infertility, ancient medical practices, 17th century superstitions, and the abusive practices of the Catholic Church. I thought Harrison created a slightly humorous undercurrent with all the preposterous details she included. These details and the fact that the protagonists didn't seem quite real mitigated the gloominess of this story for me. The book is gorgeously written.
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