An exceptional historical fiction novel, on par with Jessie Burton’s THE MINIATURIST
by Anna Mazzola
Tinder Press (UK), Summer 2016
Agent: The Agency Group
1837. A woman’s dismembered body parts are found across London. Sarah Gale, sometime seamstress and fallen woman, is sentenced to hang for her alleged role in the murder and although she professes her innocence she is certainly hiding darkness in her past. Edmund Fleetwood is a young, idealistic lawyer, who is tasked with examining her case: the death penalty was seen as an extreme punishment for a woman, and someone behind the scenes has been exerting pressure on the home office to investigate. The stakes for both are high. Edmund has untold gambling debts which he must urgently settle, and Sarah is desperate to escape with her life. As the two grow closer, the barriers between confessor and penitent start to blur, and in Sarah’s cell secrets are told as if no one else is listening. When Edmund ultimately holds her fate in his hands, how will he ensure that he makes the right decision? For is she the victim of a terrible miscarriage of justice, or a dangerous and devious criminal?
Part Alias Grace, part Burial Rites, this is a haunting and page-turning narrative that takes the reader deep into the underbelly of Victorian England, into a world where the gap between respectability and poverty balances on a knife’s edge, and where to be a penniless woman is one of the most dangerous fates of all. Inspired by a true murder, this is a gripping novel with many twists and turns and an incredible sense of setting and time. I spent the book alternately convinced that Sarah was innocent, and then guilty, and read the denouement in one, compulsive gulp.
THE UNSEEING is Anna Mazzola‘s first novel. It won the Brixton Bookjam Debut Novel competition, the Space to Write first page competition and was highly commended in the Winchester Festival novel competition. Anna’s short fiction has also won or been placed in several competitions. She came runner up in the 2014 Grazia First Chapter competition judged by Sarah Waters, and, more recently, Short Story Sunday selected her historical crime story, Proof of the Pudding, for the grand finale of their Christmas special. She is a criminal justice solicitor, based in Camberwell. Anna is currently working on a second novel about the mysterious disappearance of young girls on the Isle of Skye in 1860.