As heard on BBC Radio 4
'This is an extraordinary, quite brilliant book' - C. J. Sansom
What kind of person keeps a man underground for seven years? And who would agree to be part of such an experiment?
Herbert Powyss lives on a small estate in the Welsh Marches, with enough time and income to pursue a gentleman's fashionable cultivation of exotic plants and trees. But he longs to make his mark in the field of science - something consequential enough to present to the Royal Society in London.
He hits on a radical experiment in isolation: for seven years a subject will inhabit three rooms in the cellar of the manor house, fitted out with books, paintings and even a chamber organ. Meals will arrive thrice daily via a dumbwaiter.
The solitude will be totally unrelieved by any social contact; the subject will keep a diary of his daily thoughts and actions.
The pay? Fifty pounds per annum, for life.
Only one man is desperate enough to apply for the job: John Warlow, a semi-literate labourer with a wife and six children to provide for.
The experiment, a classic Enlightenment exercise gone more than a little mad, will have unforeseen consequences for all included.
In this seductive tale of self-delusion and obsession, Alix Nathan has created an utterly transporting historical novel which is both elegant and unforgettably sinister.
AUTHOR: Alix Nathan read English and Music at York University. She lives in the Welsh Marches where she owns some ancient woodland with her husband. Her short stories have been published in Ambit, The London Magazine, New Welsh Review and read on BBC Radio 4. Her last two books were published by Parthian Press.
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