I'm pleased to say my husband took a few hours off his maths revision (he's an Open University student too) to write this review:
An interwoven story of chemistry, medicine, philosophy and religion, Blessed Days of Anaesthesia charts the remarkable changing attitudes towards pain during the nineteenth century. As pioneers of ether and chloroform start to challenge the Victorian idea that pain is a God-given stimulant, battles rage about the ethics and morality of such meddling with human consciousness. The story ebbs and flows as anaesthesia has both successes and dramatic failures. While practitioners experiment recklessly on themselves, key players take centre stage: Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens and Charles Darwin all become involved, and Queen Victoria herself gives birth to Prince Leopold under the influence of chloroform. Meanwhile, dark stories are emerging from London’s back-streets of nefarious activities committed with the aid of chemical-soaked handkerchiefs, and The Crimean War brings along a whole new wave of human suffering. Blessed Days of Anaesthesia is nicely written and has the intriguing subplots and interesting characters that you would hope to find in an exciting novel.