Christmas, 1863. Richard Shenstone, aged seventeen, has been sent away from Cambridge under a cloud of suspicion. Addicted to opium and tormented by disturbing sexual desires, he finds temporary refuge in the creaking old mansion inhabited by his newly impoverished mother and his sister, Effie, whose behaviour grows increasingly bizarre. Soon, graphic and threatening letters begin to circulate among the locals, where no one is quite who he seems and almost anyone can be considered a suspect in a series of crimes and misdemeanours ranging from vivisection to murder.
Charles Palliser’s previous novels, The Quincunx and The Unburied, have earned him the reputation of “our leading contemporary Victorian novelist” (The Guardian), and his new novel Rustication also cements him as a master of Gothic in its finest tradition. This will be a spell-binding evening and an insight into the mind of this unique novelist.