The Water Doctor’s Daughters

Written by Pauline Conolly
Review by Edward James

This is true crime and also a Victorian melodrama which outdoes any fictional Victorian melodrama I have ever read. It centres on the trial of a French governess accused of the murder of one of her English charges and the systematic mistreatment of her four sisters. But was their father, an eminent doctor and an alternative medicine fanatic, complicit in this tragedy? And this is only the start of a web of illicit liaisons, unnatural deaths and other scandals which spreads across the extended family and down the generations. Everything is copiously documented and illustrated with photographs of all the main locales. This is Conolly’s first full length book, and I hope she gives us some more.