The Corset – Book Review

Title-; The Corset

Author:- Laura Purcell

Date published:- September 20th 2018

No. of pages:- 392 pages

Genre:- Historical Fiction/Thriller


Plot:- 5/5

Writing:- 5/5

Overall rating:- 5/5

The new Victorian chiller from the author of Radio 2 Book Club pick, The Silent Companions.

Is prisoner Ruth Butterham mad or a murderer? Victim or villain?

Dorothea and Ruth. Prison visitor and prisoner. Powerful and powerless. Dorothea Truelove is young, wealthy and beautiful. Ruth Butterham is young, poor and awaiting trial for murder.

When Dorothea’s charitable work leads her to Oakgate Prison, she is delighted with the chance to explore her fascination with phrenology and test her hypothesis that the shape of a person’s skull can cast a light on their darkest crimes. But when she meets teenage seamstress Ruth, she is faced with another theory: that it is possible to kill with a needle and thread. For Ruth attributes her crimes to a supernatural power inherent in her stitches.

The story Ruth has to tell of her deadly creations – of bitterness and betrayal, of death and dresses – will shake Dorothea’s belief in rationality and the power of redemption.

Can Ruth be trusted? Is she mad, or a murderer?

This is the first book I have read from this author. Recently, I came across this book on Instagram that the plot of the story intrigued me. So I got the book and…I wasn’t disappointed!

The story is set during the Victorian era in the 1800’s England and is based on two women–Dorothea and Ruth. Dorothea, daughter of a wealthy man works with the women who is imprisoned for crimes they have committed. Dorothea meets Ruth, a young girl accused of murder and possibly put to death by hanging if she found guilty. As Dorothea gets to know about Ruth, we get a glimpse of hardships that many people, like Ruth.

This was engaging thriller. You wouldn’t be bored and to me the most interesting reading was when I was reading Ruth’s part. Ruth’s part made me sad–the hardships she faced during her childhood, when she was sent to work at a Mrs. Metyard to pay off her mother’s debts, the brutal treatment that Ruth experienced while working under Mrs. Metyard were at times disturbing to read. The author did a good job of making the book as realistic as possible, taking the reader to the 1800’s England. The ending will make you literally cry. The writing was really engaging and by reading this book, you could see the huge gap between the rich and poor during that time–learned so much about what life was really like back then.

This also had an air of creepiness in it, kind of gothic too, so if you are looking for a thriller with that kind of setting, you should certainly most try out this book. Worth five stars!

Laura Purcell is a former bookseller and lives in Colchester with her husband and pet guinea pigs.

Her first novel for Raven Books THE SILENT COMPANIONS won the WHSmith Thumping Good Read Award 2018 and featured in both the Zoe Ball and Radio 2 Book Clubs. Other Gothic novels include THE CORSET (THE POISON THREAD in USA), BONE CHINA and THE SHAPE OF DARKNESS (2020)

Laura’s historical fiction about the Hanoverian monarchs, QUEEN OF BEDLAM and MISTRESS OF THE COURT, was published by Myrmidon.

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