Don’t accept chocolate from strangers!
My rating: 4 out of 5
This non-fiction book tells the story of Christiana Edmunds, who poisoned many people in Brighton during the Victorian era.
The book starts in the early 1800s with Christiana’s father’s background and profession. The reader is given fascinating glimpses into life in those days, both at home in the mother’s domain, and in the husband’s world of work. Most striking to me was how precarious everything was if business went badly, or poor health interfered with earning abilities. Syphilis is considered to have played a part in this family’s history, and the far reaching effect of this is fascinating to read about. The story then moves to focus more on Christiana, and how and why she starting poisoning people, and the outcome. The book ends with a good round up of what happened to all the main characters. There is also a good bibliography and list of sources at the end.
I enjoyed this book because of the social history it gives about life throughout the 1800s. The book is well written, and provides lots of interesting material about family life, life within prisons and within asylums for the insane, including Broadmoor, together with medical practices of the time. Occasionally I wished for more information about the characters and events, but the author makes it clear when further information is not available.
A good read, and perhaps (as the author says) Christiana is the reason why many of us were told, as children, not to accept chocolate from strangers!