Saturday, July 10, 2010

I Came Upstairs by MC Halliday

In Victorian England, Mabel Gray (Mae) is a young girl suffering the dregs of utter poverty in a London slum. When her life turns bleak, a man by the name of Robert Vickers comes to her rescue. In Mabel, he sees the promise of a great beauty. He takes her innocence then teaches her the art of seduction. After showering her with fine clothes and tutoring her to become more refined, he sets her to work as a courtesan and duly reaps the rewards.

But Mabel is quick-witted and when one of her customers presents her with fine jewellery, she comes to the realization she could earn her own way in life. She escapes Vickers's clutches and establishes herself as a dancer. Fame comes easy and before long, Mabel becomes a woman of independence means with a well-established following of men and a manor house with loyal servants of her own.

MC Halliday resurrects the art of Victorian erotica in this novel of a young courtesan in 19th century England. Although the erotica is plentiful throughout, it is balanced with an abundance of interesting plot twists and nefarious characters who either wish to exploit her, or come to her rescue. And this makes an interesting story from start to finish.

Within the pages of this novel, you will find an imperfect heroine who drinks too much, lusts, and makes numerous serious mistakes. But it is her human failures and mistakes that drew my interest. After all, who among us is perfect? And although I often disagreed with some of the actions of the heroine, I found myself understanding and sometimes empathizing. And it is this which creates a compelling character, not soon forgotten.

I very much enjoyed the author's easy style of writing. The story is a little bit 'rag to riches' and a little bit "My Fair Lady' sprinkled with some sexually charged scenes. Tastefully written, this novel makes for a charming introduction to Victorian erotica.