It is 1665 and London faces two deadly threats – the devastating plague, and dangerous rumblings of a rebellion against the King, Charles II. In the frontline of the plague, the ‘first responders’, are the ancient women of the parish: the Viewers, Keepers and Searchers, who must deal with the sick, the dying and the dead. Political and religious differences split the city. Some yearn for the days of Oliver Cromwell and the Puritan Commonwealth, others rejoice in the pleasure loving King’s return. A tale of friendships and feuds, songs and psalms, plots and betrayals, this exciting and original novel paints a rich picture of life – and death – in the perilous streets of plague-struck London.
‘The product of capacious knowledge, a sharp, affectionate eye and a well-tuned ear, this book is a reel through the stinks and miasmas of plague-stricken London in the company of reflective, funny, fatalistic souls from another time entirely, who are also – mysteriously, deliriously – us. This is a classic.’ – Janita Cunnington, author of The River House and Child of Mine
‘The Searchers walk the streets with their red wands, seeking out sufferers of the plague. Rob Wills brings these forgotten women of history to dramatic life in his vast sweep of a novel, full of character and intrigue. If you like Hilary Mantel, you’ll love this.’ – Bronwen Levy, writer and critic