The Chocolate Maker’s Wife by Karen Brooks

‘Today, my lady, you also became a chocolate maker’s wife.’

The setting for this novel is Restoration London, between 1662 and 1667.  London in 1662 is still coming to terms with the return of Charles II to the throne: there’s both frenetic gaiety and puritan sobriety.  And by 1667 London will endure both the Great Plague and the Great Fire.

Enter Rosamund Tomkins.  Born into poverty and treated badly by her mother, step father and step brothers, Rosamund seems condemned to a life of drudgery in her step father’s inn.  But an accidental meeting changes the course of her life. Sir Everard Blithman recognises Rosamund as someone to be treasured, strikes a deal and then marries her.  Could it be a dream come true?

Sir Everard Blithman plans to open a chocolate shop.  Rosamund quickly becomes his greatest asset, and the chocolate shop is very popular.  But Sir Everard Blithman has secrets, and Rosamund is a pawn in a much bigger game.

I enjoyed the way in which Ms Brooks wove her fiction around the history of London at this time.  Most of the characters were well drawn, and I especially liked Samuel Pepys’s appearance in the story.  A well-crafted story of cruelty and revenge, of loyalty and love.  If you enjoy historical fiction set in 17th century Restoration London, you may well enjoy this novel as much as I did.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and HQ Fiction for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith