In "Blood Doctor" she juggles a mystery in history, the end of an era in the House of Lords, and modern fertility issues with great depth and sensitivity. Martin Nanther is dealing with all of these. A biographer and hereditary peer, he is beginning to research the life of the physician anscestor who earned the peerage for the family. The historical mystery theme is a popular one in current literature, but Vine plays her story out so beautifully, offering fascinating vignettes on Victorian and Edwardian life, hemophilia, period medical practice, and one man's life as expressed through the minimal entries in his diary that the book is hard to put down. The intertwining stories of the House of Lords and our un-Victorian challenges with fertility are equally engrossing.
Vine covers no new ground with "Blood Doctor" but who cares? You might even figure things out before the end of the book. But no one would dream of putting this book down before reaching the last page. Her writing is marvellous, and she sets the gold standard for nuanced psycological insight into her characters from the past and present. This novel comes close to my favorite of her books, "No Night Is Too Long."
Figuring who's who isn't too difficult with the help of the two geneology maps that precede the narrative. Nobody with an interest in families should find the proceedings tedious. I didn't. Indeed, I found it fascinating.
"The Blood Doctor" is another clear and undisputed triumph for Barbara Vine. Don't miss it !