Gin, Turpentine, Pennyroyal, Rue
by Christine Higdon
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Pub Date 12 Sep 2023 | Archive Date 07 Sep 2023
Four working-class Vancouver sisters, still reeling from the impact of World War I and the pandemic that stole their only brother, are scraping by but attempting to make the most of the exciting 1920s. Gin, Turpentine, Pennyroyal, Rue is a love story — but like all love stories, it’s complicated …
Morag is pregnant; she loves her husband. Georgina can’t bear hers and dreams of getting an education. Harriet-Jean, still at home with her opium-addicted mother, is in love with a woman. Isla’s pregnant too — and in love with her sister’s husband. Only one soul knows about Isla’s pregnancy, and it isn’t the father. When Isla resorts to a back-street abortion and nearly dies, Llewellyn becomes hellbent on revenge. But can revenge lead to anything but disaster for a man like Llew — a policeman tangled up in running rum to Prohibition America?
Gin, Turpentine, Pennyroyal, Rue is immersed in the complex political and social realities of the 1920s and, not-so ironically, of the 2020s: love, sex, desire, police corruption, abortion, addiction, and women wanting more. Beautifully written, with a loveable cast of characters, this novel is a tender account of love that cannot be acknowledged, of loss and regret, risk and defiance, abiding friendship, and the powerful bonds of chosen family.
“Christine Higdon is a brilliant storyteller. Gin, Turpentine, Pennyroyal, Rue is a joy and a privilege to read; undoubtedly one of the best books I’ve read in years.” — Donna Morrissey, author of Pluck