The novel opens on March 23, 1857 when Emile L’Angelier, a young clerk, is experiencing another attack of the illness that has been plaguing him in the last few weeks. By the time a physician shows up, Emile is dead. A post-mortem is conducted and his organs are found to show signs of arsenic poisoning. After finding some disconcerting love letters and a journal the prosecutor issues a warrant for the arrest of Madeleine Smith.
The second part of the novel details the romance between the two. How they met and how they carried on a secret love affair, as Madeleine’s parents didn’t approve of their relationship. But, Madeleine is also being courted by a man her parents do approve of, and severs her relationship with Emile.
Desperate, Emile threatens to send their correspondence to her father and Madeleine has to find a way to put an end to their relationship for good. The rest of the story unfolds with accounts of the trial and what became of Madeleine. It is no wonder this story was the scandal of its day.
I found this to be a captivating story told with a voice that captures the period detail and with beautiful black ink drawings. So did she do it or not? Well, I guess you’ll have to read the book and you be the judge.
Cross-posted at Bookgirl's Nightstand