In turn-of-the-century London, an exemplary Victorian wife begins a noble-minded project: writing letters to a lonely local prisoner. What happens next in this brilliantly crafted novel of literary suspense will change Emma Smith’s life forever—and ignite a dark, erotic drama of suspicion, loss, and awakening.
In the year 1898, Emma makes a New Year’s resolution: to become a better person. So, under the tutelage of her novelist husband, she begins an innocent correspondence with Chance Wood, a man serving his sentence for the murder of his wife. But from the beginning, in words that shock and intrigue her, Chance dares Emma to unveil her unspoken thoughts and desires. And when Chance receives a pardon, Emma is set dangerously free. She will use her freedom—and Chance’s—to pursue the fantasies that have been swirling dizzily around her. Slowly, recklessly, Emma exchanges all that was familiar and safe for her new, dangerous double life. As the risks mount and a friend turns blackmailer, Emma cannot stop her fall. For once she has given in to her truest, basest desires, she cannot avoid the ones that come next.…
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: Vertigo|
|Release Date: 09-26-2006|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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10 January 1899
Dear Mr. Wood,
I write to you having received your name and address from my husband, John Smith, who has been doing some research at the prison where you currently reside for a novel he is completing. I have never corresponded with a prisoner before. I do not know if, or why, you might have committed the criminal act for which you are serving time. My husband says he believes many of the criminals at Hollow gate to be innocent victims of injustice. I, having never been in any prison, have no way of knowing the truth behind his assertions. I do know, were I in prison and deprived of the companionship of family and friends, I should find it a consolation to have another person with whom to share the occasional thought. I hope I can be that person for you.
Wishing you well,
Mrs. John Smith
One week later, I had my first reply. Though the writing was crude, the paper it was written on still worse, the words themselves were put together rin an educated enough fashion:
Dear Mrs. John Smith,
I do not know why you have taken it upon yourself to do this, but I do sowish you would stop.
31 December 1898
“Mr. and Mrs. John Smith," announced the Collinses' butler as we made our way into their crowded salon at the top of the cascade of stairs, the house yet festooned with the remnants of Christmas, the scents of pine, myrtle, oranges, cinnamon, and cloves in the air, the applewood burning in the fireplace as if the season might never end.
We were twenty-four at dinner.
Beneath one of three chandelie