The Warlow Experiment ePUB ☆ The Warlow ePUB


The Warlow Experiment The year is 1792 and Herbert Powyss is set on making his name as a scientist He is determined to study the effects of prolonged solitude on another human being though before now Powyss's sole subjects have been the plants in his greenhouse He fills three rooms beneath Moreham House with books paintings and even a pianoforte then puts out an advertisement hoping for a gentleman recluseThe only man desperate enough to apply is John Warlow a semi literate farm labourer who needs to support his wife Hannah and their six children Cut off from nature and the turning of the seasons Warlow soon begins losing his grip on sanity Above ground Powyss finds yet another distraction from his greenhouse in the form of Hannah with whom he rapidly becomes obsessed Does she return his feelings or is she just afraid of his power over her family's lives Meanwhile the servants are brewing up a rebellion inspired by recent news from across the Channel Powyss may have set events in motion but he is powerless to prevent their explosive and devastating conclusion

  • Kindle Edition
  • 288 pages
  • The Warlow Experiment
  • Alix Nathan
  • English
  • 16 April 2014

About the Author: Alix Nathan

Alix Nathan was born in London and educated there and at York University where she read English and MusicShe has lived in Norwich Munich Philadelphia Birkenhead and now in the Welsh Marches where with her husband she owns some ancient woodlandShe has published three children’s books and written about Christina Rossetti and the 18th century writer and notorious beauty Mary RobinsonSince 200



10 thoughts on “The Warlow Experiment

  1. Paromjit Paromjit says:

    Alix Nathan's brilliant historical novel is inspired by an actual 1797 advertisement and set in Wales where Herbert Powys a well off man living on his estate with his servants he has no family He has a strong interest in botany but is driven by an inner desire to make his mark in the scientific field He hits on conducting a controversial experiment that seeks to examine the impact of complete isolation on a human being for the period of 7 years placing an advert in search of a suitable subject willing to undergo this ordeal Powys's experiment is to have far reaching conseuences that he never envisaged and result in a tragedy that is to tear his life apart The only applicant he gets is a desperate impoverished barely literate local labourer John Warlow with a wife Hannah and six childrenPowys kits out the basement in his Manor in what he perceives to be an ideal environment in his eyes there are books and the food provided via a dumb waiter is of gourmet uality with Warlow expected to complete a journal For taking part Warlow's family will be supported by Powys with Warlow paid £50 pounds a year These are turbulent political times with the French Revolution and Tom Paine's Rights of Man and Powys's household and locals have their own ideas and opinions of his experiment and Warlow's predicament as the seeds of subversion grow As Powys finds himself getting unexpected close to Hannah events conspire to turn his life upside down and his experiment to fall apart with disastrous repercussions This is an atmospheric and immersive read of morality ethics love and relationships science and an out of control experiment that is to severely impact Powys's life This is a fantastic read and I must mention how beautiful the hard back copy of the book is Highly recommended

  2. ABCme ABCme says:

    This is an intriguing read off the beaten path for sure Going from a reasonable human experiment to yep that was to be expected But the journey wowIt's 1793 Powyss a wealthy man wants to conduct an experiment to find out how resilient the human mind is when isolated from the world John Warlow is the only one who volunteers mainly because the offer of £50 a year for the rest of his life is so tempting He agrees to live in a luxurious but dark apartment in the basement of Powyss mansion He and his pauper family outside are very well looked after So far so good The book has a good pace an interesting subject and I'm glued to my KindlePretty soon though Warlow realises he's on his own No job no human contact nothing to do and his hair and nails are growing steadily He makes up all kinds of mischief to keep himself occupied but the first cracks are beginning to show and the mood gets darker We follow his existance for four years as well as life upstairs and in the regular worldThere is a good balance in darkness and light good times and bad and we get to know all characters indepth The writing is excellent I like how language is used to show the ranks in society I won't spoil the ending but as the book progresses you'll see it coming How it eventually plays out though is uite stunningThe Warlow Experiment is food for thought well crafted and highly recommendedThank you Netgalley and Serpent's Tail for the ARC

  3. Joseph Joseph says:

    A reward of £50 a year for life is offered to any man who will undertake to live for 7 years underground without seeing a human face to let his toe and fingernails grow during the whole of his confinement together with his beard Commodious apartments are provided with cold bath chamber organ as many books as the occupier shall desire Provisions will be served from Mr Powyss’s table Every convenience desired will be providedHerbert Powyss Moreham House Herefordshire January 1793The premise of this novel would have been incredible were if not for the fact that it is based on facts which actually occurred In an Author’s note at the end of the book Alix Nathan uotes an extract from the Annual Register for 1797 which describes the terms of the experiment or less as reproduced in the introductory uote and adds that “it appears that an occupier offered himself for this singular residence who is now in the fourth year of his probation a labouring man who has a large family all of whom are maintained by Mr P”This nugget of curious information is all the tantalizing because there appears to be no account of the aftermath of this real life experiment Nathan intrigued by the narrative opportunities of this episode wrote two related short stories An Experiment Above and An Experiment Below reflecting respectively the point of view of the ‘scientist’ and ‘subject’ These stories eventually formed the basis of The Warlow Experiment in which a wider canvas allows the author to enlarge her cast of characters and dwell longer on the historical backdrop We do not know the motivations of the real life “Powyss” Nathan’s is a recluse who prefers the company of his books and music at his residence Moreham Hall to the idle entertaining which seems to be expected of him With no family a frosty relationship with his servants and just one or less like minded friend his only dream is of being recognized in scientific circles This is what he sets out to do with his uniue experiment Shockingly he does not seem to take into account the fact that his subject being a human being this would raise ethical issues Powyss’ dogged determination is not tempered with enough humanity to make him realize that the conseuences of his actions could be tragic This seems to dawn on him only when he gets to know better Mrs Warlow whom he supports during the course of the experiment Not unexpectedly he becomes attracted to this woman so different from himself in class background education and temperament – this ironically makes him uestion the correctness of the “experiment” whilst only complicating an already explosive situationNathan has drawn a compelling story out of the bare bones of the Annual Register account The three part narrative arc of the novel is satisfying although some of the scenes especially the final one feels contrived and I particularly admired the different voices and points of view which are very well brought out The contrasting ‘narrators’ obviously reflect the origin of The Warlow Experiment as two short stories but the novel also includes the voices of other characters including Mrs Warlow The characterization is complex – in this respect one of the figures I liked best was the housemaid Catherine whom we see developing from a frankly rather unpleasant young woman to a steely determined and big hearted figureThe novel also works wonderfully as historical fiction The late 18th Century was a period of philosophical and scientific inuiry but was also – possibly for the same reasons – a period of social turbulence with revolutionary ideas sweeping across Europe This backdrop serves to highlight the ‘social’ themes of the book Indeed the experiment brings out the inherent injustices of a classist and patriarchal society Powyss seems to expect that a ‘gentleman’ of his background would be interested in becoming a hermit for science He does not stop to consider that the only person who might wish to give up his liberty for a ‘pension’ of fifty pounds would likely be someone financially desperate Despite Powyss’s attempts at being humane the nature of the experiment itself turns Warlow into a dehumanised subject and only serves to accentuate the divide between classes Moreover it is suggested that at all levels of society it is women who suffer most the educated and enlightened Powyss his ‘progressive’ friend Fox the firebrand Abraham Price with his dreams of euality – all become selfish and rapacious where women are concerned At the same time women are portrayed as the instigators of hope and redemption In this respect this is a worthy addition to a number of recent historical novels with a feminist streakVisit for a complete review including music by composers mentioned in the novel

  4. MaryannC. Book Freak MaryannC. Book Freak says:

    This was not a fast read by any means but a captivating one especially since this was based on a true storySet in 1792 Herbert Powyss is a wealthy man a scientist of sorts who wishes to conduct his own experiment and offer labourer John Warlow the princely sum of 50 pounds a year for life if he consents to live underground in a cellar for 7 years without human contact John is a brutish man who beats his children and has grown tired of his meek wife Hannah so he willingly accepts the offer to live in comfort and away from his family Little does he know that this experiment will go horribly wrong for everyone with conseuences that were never imagined There were times the story lagged for me but the depth of the story kept me intrigued till the end A haunting and somewhat somber read

  5. Aoife Aoife says:

    I received this book from Serpent's Tail in exchange for an honest reviewIn 1793 Welshman Herbert Powyss does not want his name to fall into obscurity and decides to conduct an experiment about the effects of a seven year solitude on a man's behavior After constructing underground rooms Powyss employs semi literate John Warlow to live there His clothes and food will be provided for him but he won't see or speak to another person for over half a decade Things begin to unravel as Warlow's thoughts wander in the darkness and Powyss becomes acuainted with Warlow's wifeThis was an unsettling yet addictive read about a man's slow descent into madness and you really do wonder what you would do in such a situation I really enjoyed Warlow's POV which was fairly uneducaed but some of things he obsevered were realy interesting and what he would write in his diary There's definitely an 'ick' feeling when reading this too because it's obvious that Warlow isn't washing himself or cleaning his surroundings so it's not too long before he's wading through filth and describing all the creepy crawlies on his own body let alone in his chambersPowyss as a character was annoying mostly due to his selfishness and his entitled air to the point that he didn't act entitled but he never really thought about anyone else It is really intersting that he himself is an extremely solitary person and he decided to undertake such an experiment on someone else I did find the relationship between Hannah and Powyss a bit predictable I liked the POV of Catherine one of the maids as someone slightly impartial to everything else going on One of the things I wasn't mad on in this story was probably the revolutionary side plot At the time of the novel one of the French revolutions is ongoing and some men are beginning to think of overthrowing their masters on English soil as well I wouldn't have a massive interest in the French Revolution or French history in particular so I found myself impatient in these parts to get back to Powyss and Warlow mostly Warlow as his POV was so rivetingThe flip near the end of the book of Powyss's and Warlow's living situations really struck me and I thought it cleverly done I did very much enjoy this book and how it all played out I also love that Powyss and Warlow are based on real people and a real experiment and Alix Nathan has put her own spin on it

  6. Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum Tracey Allen at Carpe Librum says:

    The Warlow Experiment by Alix Nathan has the best premise I've read all year Can a man live for 7 years underground without seeing another human face? It's 1792 and Herbert Powyss is a rich middle aged bachelor living in Moreham House in Herefordshire Powyss enjoys reading scientific papers and cultivating rare plants and vegetables in his vast gardens and greenhouses He is essentially a man of leisure and learningSeeking mention in the scientific journals he reads and the accolades he dreams will follow he devises an experiment converts the cellar beneath his house into a fine set of apartments and places the following advertisement A reward of 50 pounds a year for life is offered to any man who will undertake to live for 7 years underground without seeing a human face to let his fingernails grow during the whole of his confinement together with his beard Commodious apartments are provided with cold bath chamber organ as many books as the occupier shall desire Provisions will be served from Mr Powyss's table Every convenience desired will be provided To his disappointment the advertisement attracts just one applicant John Warlow is a rough labouring man who drinks beats his wife Hannah and has trouble putting food on the table for his six children He claims he won't miss seeing anybody for 7 years and is fixated on the guarantee of 50 pounds a year for life if he stays the duration of the experimentWarlow enters his lavishly furnished apartments in 1793 and is due to come out in the new century 1800 Although semi literate Warlow is asked to write a regular journal and has ready access to as many books as he wants There is a dumb waiter that will provide food wood candles and other suppliesWritten in the third person with chapters focussing on different characters we're given insight into Powyss Warlow Hannah Warlow's wife and several of the household servants I definitely enjoyed Warlow's chapters the most His thought process and experiences were transfixing and I longed to know what he was up to Ironically these same thoughts uickly begin to plague Powyss as he too becomes fixated on Warlow's existence just a few floors beneath his sumptuous library Powyss assuages his guilt by reminding himself Warlow is a willing participant and focussing on how the money from his experiment is transforming Warlow's familyI was eager for the experiment to work and for each of the characters to 'play their role' without messing it up Unfortunately accomplished author Alix Nathan had other plans Powyss's experiment doesn't uite go to plan for a variety of reasons and it reminded me just a little of the experiment failing in Frankenstein by Mary ShelleyIt was exciting to learn in the Author's Note that the author had based her novel on a real advertisement she stumbled across in the Annual Register from 1789 to 1814 and specifically the volume for 1797 Presented in a small hardback volume with a beautiful cover and stunning endpapers I was easily transported back in time in this gothic exploration of solitude scientific learning mental anguish transformation love penance and regretIf you're at all intrigued by the premise then The Warlow Experiment is for you Highly recommended for historical fiction readers and fans of the gothic genre Copy courtesy of Allen Unwin

  7. Eleanor Eleanor says:

    Nathan’s novel is based on a true story in 1793 a Mr Powyss offered £50 a year for life to any man who would undertake to live in solitary confinement underground for seven years without cutting his nails hair or beard keeping a journal of his thoughts The advertisement was answered by one man a labourer with a wife and a large number of children Nathan skillfully integrates the class upheaval occurring in England at the time and the voice of John Warlow the semi literate ploughman who takes up the offer is poignantly and viscerally rendered Out in July and not to be missed Originally posted on my blog Elle ThinksIf you like what I write why not buy me a coffee?

  8. Ilana Ilana says:

    45 May or may not upgrade to a 5 Definitely want to say things about this book as well as the one I just I finished previously Recursion—both definitely among this year’s favourites thought I cannot imagine two different novels either

  9. Janet Janet says:

    As someone who cherishes my “alone time” what reader doesn’t? I was intrigued by the premise of this book A wealthy gentleman in 18th century Wales offers to pay a man to live in solitude underground in his converted cellar for 7 years This is framed as a sort of scientific experiment The subject is to live in ease and comfort with all his needs supplied and also will have all his outside obligations taken care of At the end of the 7 year period he will receive a lifetime income sufficient that he won’t have to workI had in my mind Henry David Thoreau and Walden Pondnothing could be further fromEarly in the book I started to lose interest but I held on and was richly rewarded At the end Nathan provides us with the text of the newspaper article that inspired this bookfascinating This is really good historical fiction and a fine piece of writing I enjoyed it thoroughly

  10. Connie G Connie G says:

    Herbert Powys a wealthy man from Herefordshire is a loner interested only in books and horticulture In 1793 he decides he wants to make his mark on science by conducting an experiment He advertises for a man that is willing to live in solitary confinement in Powys' nicely furnished basement The confined man will have a good supply of books and gourmet food but he must grow his beard and nails during his seven year confinement Powys has only one man answer his ad John Warlow a semi literate laborer with a wife and six children In return Warlow will receive 50 pounds yearly for life The story has first person accounts by Powys Warlow Warlow's wife Hannah and several servantsThe servants have been energized by the French Revolution and Thomas Paine's Rights of Man and see Warlow's confinement as an example of the upper class taking advantage of a working class man Of course Powys' experiment goes terribly wrong with awful repercussions for everyone involvedAlix Nathan writes well and has some interesting ideas But the middle of the book explores so many of the servants' concerns that the main story sometimes seems forgotten There's been a lot of press lately about the effect of solitary confinement on prisoners and mental health patients in our modern world so this historical story seems very timely to read

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