England 1862 – and The Nation is in mourning for the death of the Prince Consort, when a newly appointed archivist arrives at the Queen's island residence of Osborne, enticed by the prospect of long country walks as much as by his professional duties. But his plans are forced to change as he uncovers a complex web of intrigue and scandal that reaches from revolutionary France to the very heart of Victorian society.
What is he to make of such an unwelcome discovery? And who is the mysterious woman he encounters again and again when walking by the sea?
A testament from the grave that reveals one of the most powerful yet maligned of 19th-century courtesans whose life has been almost erased from history. But it is knowledge that does not please everyone.