About the Book
On a November evening in Victorian London, the moneyed but listless Edward Monteith stokes the fire at his local gentlemen’s club, listening to stories of supernatural experiences and theories of life after death. His curiosity leads him to a séance, where he falls under the spell of a beautiful flower seller. But Victorian society does not look kindly on love between a gentleman of means and a Romani girl, and when he faces being cut off by his family, Edward makes a decision with horrifying consequences.
Two years later Edward is married and anticipating the birth of his first child, in a beautiful house lined with orange blossom trees. But the wrongs of the past are not so easily forgotten, and the boundary between the living and the dead begins to thin…
Format: Paperback (240 pages) Publisher: Gallic Books
Publication date: 22nd September 2022 Genre: Historical Fiction
Find The Bone Flower on Goodreads
Disclosure: If you buy a book via the above link, I may earn a commission from Bookshop.org, whose fees support independent bookshops
The Bone Flower is a delightfully atmospheric and spooky story written in a style that deftly conjures up the period in which it is set. Edward’s passionate love affair with flower girl Settie ends in tragedy when he makes a misguided and disastrous decision. It’s one which will haunt him, not only because of his feelings of guilt and regret, but in another more literal sense, particularly after his marriage to Marisol and the birth of his son, Tommaso.
There are scenes in the book that could have come straight out of an M. R. James ghost story, and I mean that as a compliment. We witness the sort of small occurrences that might be laughed off in daylight but take on a whole different perspective when they occur at night: the distant sound of a child crying, a locked and shuttered window that repeatedly blows open or ‘a sort of shuffling noise’ heard outside a bedroom door as if a creature were feeling its way towards it. (I’m not sure if this was deliberate on the part of the author but there are a couple of names in the book that crop up in M. R. James stories.) There were also definite shades of Edgar Allan Poe; I’m thinking of his story ‘Ligeia’. And since my John Buchan radar is always on full alert, the opening scenes in the gentleman’s club in which the members swap stories, especially Rickman’s tale of his strange experiences in Africa, made me think of Buchan’s book, The Runagates Club.
A skilfully crafted Gothic mystery, The Bone Flower‘s combination of uncanny events, ghostly goings-on and story of forbidden love make it the perfect reading companion for autumn evenings.
My thanks to Isabelle at Gallic Books for my proof copy.
In three words: Chilling, atmospheric, mysterious
Try something similar: Printers’ Devil Court by Susan Hill
About the Author
Charles Lambert is the author of several novels, short stories, and the memoir With a Zero at its Heart, which was voted one of The Guardian readers’ Ten Best Books of the Year in 2014. His novel Prodigal was shortlisted for the Polari Prize for LGBTQ writing in 2019. Born in England, Charles Lambert has lived in central Italy since 1980. (Photo: Goodreads author page)