The Sound of Gematria — Judith Field
It’s the last months of the nineteenth century and twenty-two year old Euphemia Thorniwork, is out of step with the men’s world she lives in. A mathematical research student at Oxford, looked on with suspicion by her her tutor, Professor Milton, she is forced to collaborate with fellow-student, Leo Lazarus, also under suspicion—for being Jewish.
At home in London, life is under pressure—for months a toxic fog has engulfed the city each evening, bringing illness to many, including Euphemia’s widowed mother. The fog has been accompanied by a wave of body-snatching and the body of Euphemia’s beloved cousin, Pearl, remains missing. Additionally, money is tight and Euphemia and her mother must move in with relatives who disapprove of her lifestyle.
Haunted by dreams of Pearl in which numbers, a red heifer and Biblical purification rites provide insoluble clues, she discovers an article about communicating with the dead using sound waves. Determined to cling to rational explanations, Euphemia returns to Oxford, but when she begins to fall in love with Leo, and learns something of esoteric Judaism, their research takes an unconventional turn and the questions mount.
Can Euphemia and Leo find the body snatchers? What is the origin of the toxic fog and can they find a way to defeat it? Will Leo and Euphemia’s love survive their religious divide?
Blending Victorian romance and drama with a compelling supernatural story, The Sound of Gematria is an engaging debut novel not to be missed.
Judith was born in Liverpool, lives in London and has been writing since 2009. She is the daughter of writers. Her grandson inspired her first published story when he broke her laptop keyboard. Unlike in the story, a magical creature didn’t come out of the laptop and fix her life.
Her short stories, mainly speculative, have been published in the USA, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand. Her short story collection, The Book of Judith, was published by Rampant Loon Press in 2014. She was shortlisted for the Cinnamon Press Literature Award in 2022.
Judith has had several stories published about Euphemia, the protagonist in The Sound of Gematria, and her struggle to make her mark in a Victorian man’s world. The idea for a longer work came to Judith during a synagogue service when she was reading the Bible. She came across the section about ritual impurity and wondered what would happen if this was an actual force – what might its effects be?
Judith is also a pharmacist, freelance journalist, editor, medical writer, and indexer. She was awarded an MA in Creative Writing from the Open University in 2018.