´EXCELLENT... AN ENTIRELY UNSENTIMENTAL LOVE STORY WITH A MEMORABLE AND ENGAGING HEROINE´ - The Times (Book of the Month)
The Words in My Hand is the reimagined true story of Helena Jans, a Dutch maid in 17th-century Amsterdam, who works for Mr Sergeant the English bookseller. When a mysterious and reclusive lodger arrives - the Monsieur - Mr Sergeant insists everything must be just so. It transpires that the Monsieur is René Descartes.
This is Helena´s story: the woman in front of Descartes, a young woman who yearns for knowledge, who wants to write so badly she makes ink from beetroot and writes in secret on her skin - only to be held back by her position in society.
Weaving together the story of Descartes´ quest for reason with Helena´s struggle for literacy, their worlds overlap as their feelings deepen; yet remain sharply divided. For all Descartes´ learning, it is Helena he seeks out as she reveals the surprise in the everyday world that surrounds him.
When reputation is everything and with so much to lose, some truths must remain hidden. Helena and Descartes face a terrible tragedy and ultimately have to decide if their love is possible at all.
Guinevere Glasfurd´s short fiction has appeared in Mslexia, the Scotsman and in a collection from The National Galleries of Scotland.
The Words In My Hand, her first novel, was written with the support of a grant from Arts Council England.
She manages the Words and Women Twitter feed, a voluntary organisation representing women writers in the East of England and can be found online at guinevereglasfurd.com and @guingb.