"Famed beauty Venetia Stanley is so extravagantly dazzling she has inspired Ben Jonson to poetry and Van Dyck to painting, provoking adoration and emulation from the masses. Stampedes follow her arrival in town. But as she approaches middle age, the attention turns to scrutiny. Her adoring husband Sir Kenelm Digby – philosopher, alchemist and time-traveller – wishes she would age naturally, but Venetia discovers a potent and addictive elixir of youth, Viper Wine. Set on the eve of the English Civil War, and based on a true story, this brilliant novel asks a very contemporary question: what is the cost of beauty?"