The Lady’s Slipper

Written by Deborah Swift

The Civil War and its aftermath have finished and the King is back on his throne, but the memories of the awful conflict are never far from people’s minds. In Westmoreland, Alice Ibbetson mourns the death of her young sister and takes solace only in the painting and propagating of wild plants. To this end she steals the almost mystical orchid known as the lady’s slipper from land belonging to Richard Wheeler.

Wheeler, an ex-soldier and Quaker, is drawn to Alice, but longs for the return of his orchid as a token of his faith. At the same time he is being drawn into the political maelstrom again when the Quakers start to make a stand against oppression. But Alice and Richard are not the only ones with their eyes on the prize. Sir Geoffrey Fisk believes that the lady’s slipper will restore his fortune and his health. Wise woman Margaret Poulter is also drawn to its reputed medicinal powers.

Then a murder takes place and Alice finds herself fighting for her freedom and her life. With so many people turning against her, Alice finds that the one person she can trust is the one she has been lying to all along.

The Lady’s Slipper is a fabulous debut novel from Deborah Swift. Using prose that is remarkable for its simplicity, clarity and beauty – her attention to detail is commendable – she effortlessly evokes the early years of the Restoration and the beginnings of the Quaker movement. The novel grips from the opening lines and carries the interest throughout. The several plot strands are seamlessly blended and come together in a wholly satisfying conclusion. Her characters are so real that they linger in the mind long after the book is back on the shelf.

Highly recommended.