The Warlow Experiment – Alix Nathan

Published by Serpent’s Tail.

What makes up pick up and buy a book? A beautiful cover? An intriguing synopsis? Good reviews? Well, the Warlow Experiment by Alix Nathan has all of these, and more, in abundance.

Herbert Powyss lives on a small estate in the Welsh Marches, he is a keen horticulturist but at heart is a scientist who longs to be recognised by the Royal Society. But in order to achieve this he must conduct an experiment of the like no scientist has ever attempted before and he hits upon isolation as his topic ‘An Investigation into the Resilience of the Human Mind Without Society’. He places an advert locally for someone who is willing to live for seven years in his cellar with no human contact. They will be confined within rooms that are lavishly decorated with paintings, a small library and a chamber organ. The participant will receive three meals a day from Powyss’s own table and must keep a daily journal. The elimination process is not difficult for Powyss as only one person is willing to take part and that person is John Warlow, in return for this, Warlow will receive £50 a year, for life.

Warlow quickly adapts to his surroundings, he explores everything that is new to him, he rarely misses his wife and children, apart from the youngest Polly and he enjoys the meals he is given, apart from the fish. For Powyss, the experiment is developing slowly, Warlow is not writing in the journals as much as he ought to be but for Powyss the greater problem is his developing attraction to Warlow’s wife Hannah. Over the course of this story we see the development have relationship and the consequences it has for everyone involved. Running alongside the experiment is the on going French Revolution which is influencing many of the staff at Moreham House and again, the consequences of this on these characters adds a new dimension to the story.

I don’t really want to give to much away as this is a story that deserves to be read, devoured and enjoyed by the reader. I felt a great connection with all the characters, which is not often true of books but Nathan has written such a descriptive narrative that it is easy to involve yourself within the story itself.

The Warlow Experiment has become one of my books for 2019, I thoroughly enjoyed it, it is a super read and I would urge everyone one of you to add it to your ‘TBR’ pile, if it is already on there, bump it to the top.

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