Hermione Eyre

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Hermione Eyre is the author of the acclaimed historical novel, VIPER WINE. She was born in London and read English at Hertford College, Oxford. She lives in London with her husband and daughter. As a journalist, Hermione specializes in long-form interviews and has published more than 100 cover stories. Her interviewees include actors Carey Mulligan, Juliette Binoche and Robert Pattinson, and artists Howard Hodgkin, Grayson Perry and Gilbert and George. She once defended Joanna Lumley and Jonathan Miller from a gunman during an interview. For seven years she was a staff writer on the Independent on Sunday, where she was appointed TV critic at the age of 27. She is now freelance, contributing to publications including The Times, IndependentFinancial Times, ELLE, Harper's Bazaar, Christie's Magazine, and the London Evening Standard Magazine, where she is Contributing Editor. In 2005 she co-wrote, with the legendary author William Donaldson, The Dictionary of National Celebrity (Orion, 2005). She has reported for Night Waves (BBC R3) and appeared as a guest on Woman’s Hour (BBC R4).

VIPER WINE was shortlisted for the 2015 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction. 

Praise for VIPER WINE:

'[An] audacious debut novel... Using an alchemy all of her own, Eyre's postmodern take on the 17th century renders it dazzlingly fresh and contemporary' Guardian 

'A bold and satisfying debut novel... A tightrope performance, Viper Wine offers up a potent mixture of baroque intricacy and gothic horror... The stylistic brio and technical invention on show here is truly impressive... Eyre's poise and control make her easily the equal of most historical novelists, but it's her vision of worlds bleeding into worlds and her probing and pastiching of 17th-century style that are truly exciting. Viper Wine is an enormously impressive deubt: we can hope that its heady pleasures will offer a gateway to still wilder experiments' Telegraph

'Like its alchemical subject matter, this book is full of ambition... Eyre's prose is sensuous and rich' Independent

'A fable about the dangers of vanity in a puritanical era. Eyre's manipulation of history is as funny as it is surreal [and] both thematically and structurally ambitious. Entertaining' FT

'Bold and wildly original, Viper Wine is an exuberantly witty play on the vanity and ghoulishness of the beauty industry, and a celebration of the unfading beauty of language. Eyre's impersonation of early Caroline prose has perfect pitch; her sentences hum and trill with pleasure, and her words are as plump and strange as moonfruit. [She] has injected new youth into the historical novel' Evening Standard

Fiction

Publication DetailsNotes
2014

Jonathan Cape

At Whitehall Palace in 1632, the ladies at the court of Charles I are beginning to look suspiciously alike. Plump cheeks, dilated pupils, and a heightened sense of pleasure are the first signs that they have been drinking a potent new beauty tonic, Viper Wine, distilled and discreetly dispensed by the physician Lancelot Choice.

Famed beauty Venetia Stanley is so extravagantly dazzling she has inspired Ben Jonson to poetry and Van Dyck to painting, provoking adoration and emulation from the masses. But now she is married and her "mid-climacteric" approaches, all that adoration has curdled to scrutiny, and she fears her powers are waning. Her devoted husband, Sir Kenelm Digby - alchemist, explorer, philosopher, courtier, and time-traveller - believes he has the means to cure wounds from a distance, but he so loves his wife that he will not make her a beauty tonic, convinced she has no need of it.

From the whispering court at Whitehall, to the charlatan physicians of Eastcheap, here is a marriage in crisis, and a country on the brink of civil war. Based on real events, Viper Wine is 1632 rendered in Pop Art prose.