27 January 2022
My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book
London, 1799. Dora Blake is an aspiring jewellery artist who lives with her uncle in what used to be her parents' famed shop of antiquities. When a mysterious Greek vase is delivered, Dora is intrigued by her uncle's suspicious behaviour and enlists the help of Edward Lawrence, a young antiquarian scholar. Edward sees the ancient vase as key to unlocking his academic future. Dora sees it as a chance to restore the shop to its former glory, and to escape her nefarious uncle.
But what Edward discovers about the vase has Dora questioning everything she has believed about her life, her family, and the world as she knows it. As Dora uncovers the truth she starts to realise that some mysteries are buried, and some doors are locked, for a reason.
📖 My Review ...
Pandora Blake lives with her uncle Hezekiah above the family's antique business. During the time her parents traded in antiquities the business was successful, and honourable, however, their untimely demise brought the business, and Dora, into the guardianship of Hezekiah. Realising that her uncle is less than scrupulous in his business dealings, Dora enlists the help of a young book binder, Edward Lawrence, whose own interest in antiquities is exactly what Dora needs to help her to restore the family business to its former glory.
What then follows is an atmospheric and beautifully detailed historical novel which opens up the world of Greek mythology and the dreaded secrets of Pandora's Box. The Georgian world of 1799 comes alive, from the mean dispirited streets of London, to the gloomy shop basement filled with boxes of precious antiquities, there is never a moment when we are not fully in the moment with Dora and Edward as they go about setting right the terrible wrongs which have been done, and of the sinister evil which lurks within the world they uncover.
Beautifully written and impeccably researched, Pandora not only brings to life a worthy heroine in Dora, and not forgetting then glorious, Hermes, but it also paints a wonderful picture of Georgian England with all its colourful eccentricities. Pandora is a commendable debut by a talented new writer of historical fiction.
Best read with...a decanter of rich, red claret and an open mind
Susan Stokes-Chapman was born in 1985 and grew up in the historic Georgian city of Lichfield, Staffordshire. She studied for four years at Aberystwyth University, graduating with a BA in Education & English Literature and an MA in Creative Writing. Her debut novel, PANDORA, was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish Fiction prize 2020 as well as longlisted for the Bath Novel Award that same year.
Twitter @SStokesChapman #Pandora