The Warlow Experiment (Hardcover)

A Novel

By Alix Nathan

Doubleday, 9780385545334, 272pp.

Publication Date: August 20, 2019

List Price: 26.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.

Description

An utterly transporting and original historical novel about an eighteenth-century experiment in personal isolation that yields unexpected--and deeply, shatteringly human--results.

"The best kind of historical fiction. Alix Nathan is an original, with a virtuoso touch."
--Hilary Mantel


    Herbert Powyss lives in an estate in the Welsh Marches, with enough time and income to pursue a gentleman's fashionable investigations and experiments in botany. But he longs to make his mark in the field of science--something consequential enough to present to the Royal Society in London. He hits on a radical experiment in isolation: For seven years a subject will inhabit three rooms in the basement of the manor house, fitted out with rugs, books, paintings, and even a chamber organ. Meals will arrive thrice daily via a dumbwaiter. The solitude will be totally unrelieved by any social contact whatsoever; the subject will keep a diary of his daily thoughts and actions. The pay: fifty pounds per annum, for life.
    Only one man is desperate to apply for the job: John Warlow, a semi-literate laborer with a wife and six children to provide for. The experiment, a classic Enlightenment exercise gone more than a little mad, will have unforeseen consequences for all included.


About the Author

ALIX NATHAN read English and Music at York University. She lives in the Welsh Marches, where she owns some ancient woodlands with her husband. She is the author of His Last Fire (2014), a story collection, and The Flight of Sarah Battle (2015), a novel.


Praise For The Warlow Experiment: A Novel

"This original and gripping debut builds to a satisfying and fittingly macabre climax." 
—The Sunday Times, London

"The best kind of historical fiction. Alix Nathan is an original, with a virtuoso touch." 
Hilary Mantel

"Original and beautifully written, this is a meaty and gripping novel of obsession gone sour." 
—Daily Mail, London 

“I read Alix Nathan’s beautifully constructed new novel about an experiment most strange at great speed: its sentences, imagery and import call you onward and ever deeper. More than once since I finished I’ve looked down and wondered what might be going on just a few feet below or above me. The Warlow Experiment gets into your head.”
Laird Hunt, author of The Kind One and In the House in the Dark of the Woods

“Unusual, gripping and emotionally complex—I loved this book.”
Sally Magnusson, author of The Sealwoman's Gift

“This is an extraordinary, quite brilliant book.”
C. J. Sansom, author of Tombland

"A powerful and unsettling novel, both fascinating and infinitely strange.”
Andrew Taylor, author of The King’s Evil

“An allegory of prison culture at its cruelest. . .[The Warlow Experiment] is a powerful rebuke to the notion that withholding compassion can somehow be corrective. Nathan’s main strength is her keen characterizations of all involved. . .A sturdy historical novel about the perils of pseudoscience.”
Kirkus Reviews