The final book in a trilogy is always supposed to be about the most complicated of the characters, right? As it turns out, this wasn’t actually the final book in the series, as the novella Ms Milan intended for Free Marshall turned into a fourth novel, but this is nevertheless the book and the characters she planned the whole series around. She always intended to write about the brilliant lady scientist, having her male best friend pass her work off as his, because it was inappropriate and unacceptable for her to present it herself (and she was unlikely to get it published in the first place). Still, when it was revealed at the end of The Heiress Effect that Violet was in fact the scandalous scientist, and that Sebastian was becoming more and more depressed having to present her research, it was a jaw-dropping revelation (I didn’t really know about all the lady scientists over the years this literally happened to).
I always have to brace myself to re-read this book, because Violet breaks my heart like none other. Due to the way she’s been brought up, she’s so very closed off from the people around her and while she’s absolutely brilliant, a genius in her field, she’s so absolutely clueless about friendship and emotions and can’t recognise friendship and affection when it’s very much being offered up to her. Her marriage, which may have started out ok, did not end well and her husband’s growing resentment and eventual callous disregard certainly didn’t help with her self esteem issues. Violet loves her sister, but their relationship is also a tricky one – with Violet having to face her sister’s ridiculous fecundity, while Violet herself is a childless widow, who never managed to produce the heir her husband so desperately wanted, making her a failure as both a wife and a Victorian woman.
Full review of my re-read here.