The Warlow Experiment

The Warlow ExperimentAn 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 MantelHerbert 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 Than A Little Mad, Will Have Unforeseen Consequences For All Included

Alix Nathan was born in London and educated there and at York University where she read English and Music.She has lived in Norwich, Munich, Philadelphia, Birkenhead and now in the Welsh Marches where, with her husband, she owns some ancient woodland.She has published three children s books and written about Christina Rossetti and the 18th century writer and notorious beauty Mary Robinson.Since 200

[EPUB] ✶ The Warlow Experiment ✹ Alix Nathan –
  • Hardcover
  • 272 pages
  • The Warlow Experiment
  • Alix Nathan
  • 17 April 2018
  • 9780385545334

10 thoughts on “The Warlow Experiment

  1. says:

    Could you live underground for seven years in solitary confinement What if you had access to a plethora of books, hot food and fresh clothes every day, and were paid But what if you had to live naturally, no cutting of hair or nails Just food, water, books and I Only if delivers The Warlow Experiment is an engrossing and macabre historical novel that grips your every sense, the strangeness of Nathan s prose and adroitly crafted realism of the Herefordshire county an absorbing triumph The gothic ambiance, authentic characters and narrative study on the effects of isolation from wider society make for compelling reading Alix Nathan captures the 1700s and eighteenth century Enlightenment to create nail biting literary fiction.According to a review in the Guardian, this novel was influenced by another vintage book A few years ago, browsing the 1797 edition of the Annual Register, a reference work established in the 1750s to provide a view of the History, Politicks and Literature of the Year , Alix Nathan came across a curious entry In a single short paragraph, it described what appeared to be some kind of scientific experiment, conducted by a Mr Powyss of Moreham in Lancashire Some years earlier Mr Powyss had published an advertisement offering a reward of 50 a year for life to any man willing to live for seven years underground without seeing another human face While the successful applicant would be required to let his toe and fingernails grow during the whole of his confinement, together with his beard , his conditions would be comfortable, even luxurious according to the Register, a labouring man with a large family had accepted the post The Warlow Experiment opens in 1793 and features a horticulturalist landowner by the name of Herbert Powyss he lives in the Welsh Marches and is fortunate to pursue his love of cultivation, albeit desiring to become much renowned with the Royal Society in London The research proposal entitled an investigation into the resilience of the human mind without society requires a willing applicant to live underground for seven years in return for a lifetime sum of 50 per year meals, running water, a chamber organ and reading material are included but they will need to maintain a diary to aid Powyss s research Only John Warlow applies for the job, a labourer who provides for a wife and six children As the story unfolds insanity takes hold, obsessive relationships form and rebellions soon arise.Alix Nathan dispenses fiction with unforeseen and psychological implications subplots and letters from Powyss s friend, Benjamin Fox, intersperse brilliant storytelling However, plot pacing could have been effective and greater contextual material of the protagonists afforded to better understand their significance to the narrative On the whole, this book is delectable aliment recommended for historical fiction connoisseurs Be sure to check out the recent and wonderful BBC Radio 4 adaptation of this book, available here.

  2. says:

    This is an intriguing read, off the beaten path for sure Going from a reasonable human experiment to yep, that was to be expected But the journey, wow It s 1793 Powyss, a wealthy man, wants to conduct an experiment to find out how resilient the human mind is when isolated from the world John Warlow is the only one who volunteers, mainly because the offer of 50 a year for the rest of his life is so tempting He agrees to live in a luxurious but dark apartment in the basement of Powyss mansion He and his pauper family outside are very well looked after So far so good The book has a good pace, an interesting subject and I m glued to my Kindle.Pretty soon though Warlow realises he s on his own No job, no human contact, nothing to do and his hair and nails are growing steadily He makes up all kinds of mischief to keep himself occupied, but the first cracks are beginning to show and the mood gets darker We follow his existance for four years, as well as life upstairs and in the regular world.There is a good balance in darkness and light, good times and bad, and we get to know all characters indepth The writing is excellent, I like how language is used to show the ranks in society I won t spoil the ending, but as the book progresses, you ll see it coming How it eventually plays out though is quite stunning.The Warlow Experiment is food for thought, well crafted and highly recommended.Thank you Netgalley and Serpent s Tail for the ARC.

  3. says:

    Nathan s novel is based on a true story in 1793, a Mr Powyss offered 50 a year for life to any man who would undertake to live in solitary confinement underground for seven years, without cutting his nails, hair, or beard, keeping a journal of his thoughts The advertisement was answered by one man, a labourer with a wife and a large number of children Nathan skillfully integrates the class upheaval occurring in England at the time, and the voice of John Warlow, the semi literate ploughman who takes up the offer, is poignantly and viscerally rendered Out in July and not to be missed Originally posted on my blog, Elle Thinks.If you like what I write, why not buy me a coffee

  4. says:

    The Warlow Experiment was a gripping read that really caught my attention The premise comes from a real historical advertisement the author came across, and this is how she imagines the events would have played out As well as being historical fiction, it is also an intensely psychological piece, looking at both the mental and physical effects of the experiment on all those connected to it The book made me laugh at some points and had me sobbing in others It s an emotional work on many levels I would definitely be keen to read from Nathan in the future as her writing blends wonderful description with a great understanding of the human psyche.I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  5. says:

    A reward of 50 a year for life is offered to any man who will undertake to live for 7 years underground without seeing a human face to let his toe and fingernails grow during the whole of his confinement, together with his beard Commodious apartments are provided with cold bath, chamber organ, as many books as the occupier shall desire Provisions will be served from Mr Powyss s table Every convenience desired will be providedHerbert Powyss, Moreham House, Herefordshire, January 1793.The premise of this novel would have been incredible, were if not for the fact that it is based on facts which actually occurred In an Author s note at the end of the book, Alix Nathan quotes an extract from the Annual Register for 1797 which describes the terms of the experiment or less as reproduced in the introductory quote and adds that it appears that an occupier offered himself for this singular residence, who is now in the fourth year of his probation, a labouring man, who has a large family, all of whom are maintained by Mr P This nugget of curious information is all the tantalizing, because there appears to be no account of the aftermath of this real life experiment Nathan, intrigued by the narrative opportunities of this episode, wrote two related short stories An Experiment, Above and An Experiment, Below, reflecting, respectively, the point of view of the scientist and subject These stories eventually formed the basis of The Warlow Experiment, in which a wider canvas allows the author to enlarge her cast of characters and dwell longer on the historical backdrop We do not know the motivations of the real life Powyss Nathan s is a recluse who prefers the company of his books and music at his residence, Moreham Hall, to the idle entertaining which seems to be expected of him With no family, a frosty relationship with his servants and just one or less like minded friend, his only dream is of being recognized in scientific circles This is what he sets out to do with his unique experiment Shockingly, he does not seem to take into account the fact that, his subject being a human being, this would raise ethical issues Powyss dogged determination is not tempered with enough humanity to make him realize that the consequences of his actions could be tragic This seems to dawn on him only when he gets to know better Mrs Warlow, whom he supports during the course of the experiment Not unexpectedly, he becomes attracted to this woman, so different from himself in class, background, education and temperament this, ironically, makes him question the correctness of the experiment whilst only complicating an already explosive situation.Nathan has drawn a compelling story out of the bare bones of the Annual Register account The three part narrative arc of the novel is satisfying although some of the scenes, especially the final one, feels contrived and I particularly admired the different voices and points of view which are very well brought out The contrasting narrators obviously reflect the origin of The Warlow Experiment as two short stories, but the novel also includes the voices of other characters, including Mrs Warlow The characterization is complex in this respect, one of the figures I liked best was the housemaid Catherine, whom we see developing from a frankly rather unpleasant young woman to a steely, determined and big hearted figure.The novel also works wonderfully as historical fiction The late 18th Century was a period of philosophical and scientific inquiry but was also possibly for the same reasons a period of social turbulence, with revolutionary ideas sweeping across Europe This backdrop serves to highlight the social themes of the book Indeed, the experiment brings out the inherent injustices of a classist and patriarchal society Powyss seems to expect that a gentleman of his background would be interested in becoming a hermit for science He does not stop to consider that the only person who might wish to give up his liberty for a pension of fifty pounds would likely be someone financially desperate Despite Powyss s attempts at being humane, the nature of the experiment itself turns Warlow into a dehumanised subject, and only serves to accentuate the divide between classes Moreover, it is suggested that, at all levels of society, it is women who suffer most the educated and enlightened Powyss, his progressive friend Fox, the firebrand Abraham Price with his dreams of equality all become selfish and rapacious where women are concerned At the same time, woman are portrayed as the instigators of hope and redemption In this respect, this is a worthy addition to a number of recent historical novels with a feminist streakVisit for a complete review including music by composers mentioned in the novel.

  6. says:

    Be careful what you wish for, lest it come true That old adage certainly applies to Alix Nathan s terrific tale of the rampant abuses inherent in the days before ethics committees existed Rich, intellectual, science loving Herbert Powyss can have anything he wants, and does, but it s not enough He devises an experiment wherein a man will live sequestered for 7 years in the cellar apartment Powyss has meticulously furnished with books, music, every comfort, and all meals provided The only person who answers the ad is John Warlow a rough laborer with a wife and many children and so the experiment begins or, rather, the disaster begins Playing with themes of individuality, man s need for human interaction, culture, income inequality, empathy, and mental illness, and with nods to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Jane Eyre, Kidnapped, and myriad other classics, Nathan s enjoyment of writing this book is evident on every page Her characters are layered, her setting is rich, and her story is mesmerising this modern classic is suspenseful, thought provoking, and heartbreaking She wrote her protagonist s inner life so convincingly, I mistook the author for a man Excellently done, this kind of book doesn t come around very often do not miss it

  7. says:

    Wow Yep, one of those books that I found to have lived up to the hype that I d heard about it before buying my own copy A stunning piece of historical fiction that just made me slow my whole reading speed down so I could savour every word Think it s fair to say I enjoyed this one When an advert was placed in 1783 by Herbert Powyss looking for somebody to volunteer to live in solitary confinement for 7 years, but surrounded by food, books etc for the princely sum of 50 a year for life, John Warlow steps forward thinking of the financial rewards for his family a wife and 6 children and not giving any thought to the severity of the experiment facing him.Herbert Powyss is a reclusive scientist looking to make a name for himself and thinks a study of human behaviour is one way to get himself noticed, and in John Warlow he has someone who can be genuinely studied.You might think that reading about a man being stuck in a cellar a well appointed cellar at that wouldn t be much fun to read about, but what the author has done with this book is focus on the human impact, not only on John Warlow living life without speaking to another soul, but how his abscence affects his wife and children, how the scientist himself deals with his justification of using another human being, and how the servants in the home of Powyss come to terms of this man living beneath them.It was such a fascinating concept and staggering to hear that the actual advert was really placed in 1793, and you can t help but put yourself in that position and wonder how you d deal with things in similar circumstances Powyss himself was very reclusive and probably saw it as no hardship to be cut off from the real world for so long.As the years go by, the impact on all the characters is clear to see and it s clear that it isn t only John Warlow who is suffering because of this experiment.It s often shocking and brutal, but is a totally enthralling study of human nature and behaviour and I was totally entranced from the first page to last Brilliant

  8. says:

    What a gorgeous hardback this is It s not too shabby on this inside either Fascinating premise and some beautiful writing I particularly enjoyed the sections and prose in which we spend time with Warlow in his cellar There is a certain inevitability about it all, which means I enjoyed the first half than the second, but an intriguing, unusual and immersive read Review to follow shortly on For Winter Nights.

  9. says:

    A fascinating and well written book I loved how the story was told by different POV, the character development and the plot flow.This is an engrossing and enthralling book.Highly recommended Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC, all opinions are mine

  10. says:

    Human interaction is a redundancy of projected absurdity articulated energy ciphered lowest I d stay in that basement dungeon for a thousand years.I am not the only person in the world, I am the only person with the world inside of me poemChris Roberts, God Breathtakingly

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