The Unseeing by Anna Mazzola
Set in London in 1837, Anna Mazzola’s THE UNSEEING is the story of Sarah Gale, a seamstress and mother, sentenced to hang for her role in the murder of Hannah Brown on the eve of her wedding. Perfect for any reader of Sarah Waters or Antonia Hodgson.
‘A twisting tale of family secrets and unacknowledged desires. Intricately plotted and extremely convincing in its evocation of the everyday realities of 1830s London, this is a fine first novel’ – The Sunday Times
After Sarah petitions for mercy, Edmund Fleetwood is appointed to investigate and consider whether justice has been done. Idealistic, but struggling with his own demons, Edmund is determined to seek out the truth. Yet Sarah refuses to help him, neither lying nor adding anything to the evidence gathered in court. Edmund knows she’s hiding something, but needs to discover just why she’s maintaining her silence. For how can it be that someone would willingly go to their own death?
I have had this on my wish list for several weeks before publication. Mostly because I am a sucker for a Victorian crime mystery!
This novel however is unique in the fact that the crime has already been to court and suspects found guilty, The novel is not in such a standard way a whodunit? At the beginning of the novel we meet Sarah Gale sentenced to hang for her part in a murder. A murder she by no means committed but never the less will face the noose. We also meet her upper society lawyer Edmunds, sent to complete a report on Sarah’s sentence and possibly appeal for leniency. The book is hugely atmospheric due to the London setting and has a solid basis of research and depth. There are several key themes such as Victorian class structure, the unfair legal system, women’s lack of rights, poverty and inequality. This novel would be perfect for book groups and discussion. The writing at times may appear slow and detailed but ultimately it adds to the build up of the twist at the end. The author is a lawyer by profession and the concept behind the novel is a true crime story, perfectly embellished by the writer.
The two biggest themes within the novel are the process of being guilty by association & women’s oppression in the Victorian era. I think they were executed brilliantly. A very clever 4* read!
*I received an Ebook copy via netgalley in return for an honest review.