..[a] charming tale ... With its Victorian setting, elaborate plot, and score of quirky characters, this work is delightfully Dickensian yet maintains a modern sensibility. Kingman...taps into an astounding breadth of knowledge, from stonemasonry and paleontology to Scottish history and politics, plus religion and metaphysics. Highly recommended.
Kingman...deftly weaves Constantia's uncertain past with the political and scientific mores of her present, allowing questions of origin and design, motherhood and family, home and empire, to inform and play off one another. While it takes some time for the plot to reveal itself, the novel at last gives in to the conventions of chance and coincidence that make fiction work ... This richly observed novel of ideas will delight fans of A.S. Byatt's Possession and Penelope Fitzgerald's The Blue Flower alike ... An intelligent, deeply felt family saga.
...[a] beautifully wrought, panoramic historical ... Through meticulously detailed descriptions of the Chambers family and their friends, Kingman shows how the work’s scientific speculations are reflected in innumerable facets of their day-to-day lives ... Kingman’s evocation of a specific time and place, and her depiction of the role that chance, rather than deliberate design, plays both in the natural world and in her characters makes for gratifying storytelling. Kingman masterfully combines history with propulsive drama.