With locations ranging from a murder scene outside a Covent Garden theatre to the Victorian explorer Sir John Franklin’s ship Terror frozen into the Arctic ice – and taking in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles, a rural idyll in Somerset and an extraordinary Masonic ritual on the way – Index is a spellbinding novella that provokes curiosity and ultimately satisfies it with a poetics of mystery that transcends conventional narrative closure.
In the book fictionalised versions of the famous magician and forger Cagliostro; the revolutionary bigot Lord George Gordon; Marie Antoinette and the transvestite spy Chevalier D’Eon, are woven into a thematic exploration of revolution, repression, seduction and death. The use of uncredited ‘found’ texts and deliberate forgeries blur the line between what might have happened and what is merely imagined. Mapped onto this web of memory and imagination are Roland and Julie, the survivors of a king’s unsuccessful experiment to uncover the truth about human nature and the original spoken language.
Bridget Penney was born in Edinburgh, lived in London and settled in Brighton. She is the author of one previously published book Honeymoon with Death (Polygon, Edinburgh 1991), which was short-listed for the Saltire Society Scottish First Book of the Year Award.
Published as part of Book Works’ Semina series (No.1). Edited by Stewart Home.