In The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen, the dialogue moves between the present in rural Massachusetts, back in time to 1830, when in the same locality, resurrectionists plundered graves to sell the bodies on the black market. The bodies were used by medical students learning the art of surgery through dissection of the freshly robbed corpses.
The protagonist in 1830 is Norris Marshall, a poverty stricken medical student who works at grave robbing to pay his tuition through medical school.
The present day leading character is a bored, indecisive, wealthy woman who has just purchased a large derelict estate with the proceeds of an unhappy divorce settlement. In order to fend off her ennui, she begins to vigorously renovate the garden- a rocky outcrop-and discovers a secret graveyard.
This book deals with raw humanity: showing striking contrasts of women’s lives. Early 19 century women’s struggle-hunger and desperation for the basics of life and consequent early death-with modern day affluent women wrestling with boredom and self actualisation as they live longer and can afford leisure and- without basic struggle for survival-have time for enquiry.
Interesting historical perspective: pathos and feminist issues: not a challenging read.