Book Review: The Devlin Diary by Christi Phillips

: The Devlin Diary

Author: Christi Phillips

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction, Historical Fiction, European Literature, British Literature, Romance, Contemporary

Publisher: Pocket

Published: April 14, 2009

Page Amount: 427 pages

Blurb From GoodreadsLondon 1672: Physician Hannah Devlin has a special knowledge that Secretary of State Lord Arlington desperately needs. At the king’s Machiavellian court, Hannah is drawn into a dangerous investigation by Dr. Strathern, who believes the murders conceal a far-reaching conspiracy that may include Hannah’s late father and the king himself. Cambridge, 2008. Teaching history at Trinity College is Claire Donovan’s With help from the eclectic collections of Cambridge’s renowned libraries, Claire and historian Andrew Kent follow the clues Devlin left behind, uncovering secrets of London’s dark past and Cambridge’s equally murky present, and discovering that events of three hundred years ago may still have consequences today…

Why Read: One of my favourite genres of all time is the vaunted “historical fiction.” There’s nothing more I like than reading about conspiracy related events in the past and how they become relevant to present characters situations. It help that I’ve also read the first book in the series and was familiar with Claire Donovan (and her sassy attitude) from the get-go.

Review: If you are any sort of super-geek for English history, and you love reading about the intrigue that Cambridge provokes – you’re going to need to read this. It’s without question that Claire Donovan is the embodiment of the strong and slightly reckless woman in all of us. So reading about her adventures, along with her uncertainty surrounding romance with Andrew Kent and utter bewilderment in the old-boys-club is the most fun.

Both main female protagonists, Claire and Hannah, although they live in separate time periods, share a urge to do the right thing even at the expense of their safety. It particularly spoke to me that both characters were female, since that so rarely is a concept discussed in 1600s based fiction. Even better, Phillips goes on to talk about what it would have been like to be a female physician in that time period. Discrimination is the normal routine for doctor Hannah Devlin. Compared to present-day Cambridge, you’d think you’d see a difference… but unfortunately that’s not really the case.

Part of what I loved so dearly about this book was how it made me consider the frustrating similarities when women try to enter a profession that’s mostly restricted to men, whether in the 1600s or now. Of course the plot itself was thrilling, and I love a good mystery – especially when rivalries between England and France are involved (and courtiers galore) Perhaps better was how I was never bored. Each end of a chapter ended with a dangling cliff hanger and would shift back to a different time period. The frustration!

It was an absolutely spectacular book and I singularly recommend this very highly for those interested in a good history thriller. It doesn’t really feel like you’re reading fiction, rather a very well narrated non-fiction fictionalisation o events.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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