Viper Wine (2014) – Hermione Eyre: 3/5
Well I’m going to be honest here and admit that the entire reason I bought this book was because of its cover. It called to me from a distance in Waterstones and I gravitated towards the beauty, grasping it and stroking the smooth cover. Like the majority of characters within Viper Wine, I was enraptured by beauty.
In a nutshell, Viper Wine tells the ingeniously imaginative tale of Lady Venetia Digby and her quest to regain her youth and prestige. Historical fiction with a twist, Eyre certainly surprised me with the addition of modern references, delving into plastic surgery and astrophysics to name but a few. At first I thought it a rather random addition to the novel; the first references jarring my reading experience and leaving me quite confused. I didn’t go into this book wanting to analyse anything or get excited over my knowledge of all the literary allusions, I just wanted to enjoy it. In my spare time I like to read for sheer pleasure and enjoyment. I think, ultimately, I understand the reasoning for Eyre’s stylistic construction of Viper Wine, but I didn’t care enough about the fancy technicalities of her skill as a writer.
Aside from the literary allusions and modern details that came dangerously close to saturating the novel, I found the pace to be tediously slow in some places. Viper Wine is a subtle novel in every aspect. Its detail, plot, characterisation etc. is all very subtle. It is a lovely read, but I found myself distracted far too frequently. For me Viper Wine is one of those novels where, halfway down the page, you find yourself tuning out and wondering what’s for dinner tonight.
She is a wonderful writer though. And that, alone, should be reason for you all to read this book. Plus, I found Eyre’s particular glimpse into 17th Century London absolutely fascinating. Even though I found problems with aspects of the narrative style, Viper Wine wouldn’t be uniquely Viper Wine, without them.
Thank you for reading 🙂