Wednesday, September 29, 2010

In the Arms of Mr. Darcy by Sharon Lathan

A continuation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Sharon Lathan's fourth book, In the Arms of Mr. Darcy, brings us into the daily lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy and his wife, Elizabeth, as they learn to cope with the trials and joys of parenthood.

Set in Derbyshire, in 1817, the Darcy's scandalize their more conservative housekeeping staff by actually spending time with their firstborn child, rather than relegating him to the nanny.

Many adventures surround this new family, causing pangs of worry, and at times, deep angst when business delays ensue, keeping Darcy away from his family far longer than expected.

As the Darcy's cope with their trials, the single siblings of immediate family and closest friends seem to awaken to their own passionate needs that have been long since buried.

Inspired by the continuing passion and love of the Darcy's, as well as the obvious transformation of Darcy's otherwise taciturn nature, cousin Richard Fitzwilliam is reminded of what he thought was a long-lost love; sister Georgiana Darcy blossoms into a young woman with untapped romantic talents; Kitty Bennett learns the highs and lows of her first crush; and Caroline Bingley surprises everyone, including herself, of the depths of her passionate nature!

A titillating, yet amorous look into the privileged lives of England's gentry as they travel back and forth from countryside estates to the London "seasons" of society, with all the protocol, pomp and circumstance that comes with the responsibilities of their positions.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Author Interview: Catherine Delors, For the King

We’re delighted to have Catherine Delors join us to talk about her new novel, For the King, and to share her experiences writing the sophomore novel.

For the King is your second novel. Please us a bit about the new story.

After the 9/11 attacks, I gave much thought to the mindframes of people who would kill innocent civilians to make a political point. Given my French background, and my interest in the French Revolution in particular, the Rue Nicaise attempt to assassinate Napoléon came to mind. He escaped without a scratch but there were dozens of victims among passersby.

What is it about the revolutionary period in France that inspires your writing?

I became fascinated by revolutionary France when I wrote Mistress of the Revolution. The issues raised then and there remain totally current in our world.

Roch Miquel, your protagonist in For the King offers a different perspective from the aristocratic Gabrielle de Montserrat, your lead in Mistress of the Revolution. Did you have any difficulty portraying a different outlook of the revolution’s aftermath?

I specifically wanted to give a different take on the French Revolution from that of the aristocratic Gabrielle. It was important to show a different point of view, that of a man who did not have anything to lose in the Ancien Régime, and had everything to gain in the new order.

How much time did you spend researching For the King, and were there any memorable or surprising details that you uncovered while completing the research?

It took me many months to research the investigation. I was already familiar with the era after my research for Mistress of the Revolution. The surprise was to find how thorough the investigation had been, and how well preserved the records were. Also how some obvious questions were not raised, in particularly about the involvement of Fouché, the Minister of Police, and how the main culprits were allowed to escape…

Many of the characters in the novel are historical figures. How difficult was it to blend fiction with historical fact?

I like to work with fictional protagonists. This gives me more creative freedom in terms of plot and character development than if, say, my central figures were Napoléon or Joséphine. Then I bring in the “marquee names” but those remain in the background. Truth be told, I find the lives of ordinary people fascinating.

What were the challenges of writing your second historical novel?

The sophomore novel is supposed to be the most difficult to write. Indeed For the King was not easy. I wanted to make it very different from Mistress of the Revolution in many regards (it is a political thriller, for instance, and the main main point-of-view character is a male policeman) while keeping the same period flavor.

What are you working on? Do you plan to write more books about France’s turbulent history?

I am working on twin projects. One is a prequel, in the Gothic style, to Mistress of the Revolution, and the other an investigation of Jane Austen’s French connections. Yes, always France…

Thanks again for speaking with us, Catherine, and best of luck with For the King.

Thanks to you, Lisa, for having me here. It is always a pleasure to chat with you!

There's still time to leave a comment for Catherine and win a copy of For the King. Read our review posted on September 26 and post your comment.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Book Giveaway: For the King by Catherine Delors

It is Christmas Eve, the year 1800, in post-revolutionary France. Paris’ unsuspecting citizens go about their business casually, unaware of conspirators plotting against the First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte. When a crude but powerful bomb rips through the streets, Citizen Inspector Miquel searches for the assassins, knowing that they will never stop the vicious quest for France’s return to its monarchical past.

The French republic bolstered by its revolutionary ideals permitted Miquel’s meteoric rise from humble beginnings. Now, his father’s rhetoric against Napoleon’s corrupt government lands him in jail. Miquel suddenly discovers his father’s fate is contingent on his innate skills and speed. He races against time to discover the truth. Ties to the present also hinder his abilities, with his beautiful mistress Blanche Coudert as a persistent distraction. I never doubted that he would expose the assassins and capture the elusive conspirator, code-named For the King. His deft handling of each new obstacle always gave me with intense relief, only to have my heart full of fear whenever an unforeseen threat immediately arose.

Catherine Delors first wowed me with her portrayal of revolutionary France in her debut title, Mistress of the Revolution. I have come to admire her most for her passion for France of the 18th and 19th centuries. It is always evident in the history she reveals, and the mannerisms and attitudes of her characters, details that only a dedicated writer who has immersed herself in the period can bring to life. She has also impressed me with the multifaceted personalities of the individuals on the page, each unique and memorable. Miquel has high ideals, but he can be brutally purposeful when the excesses of the past threaten to misdirect his moral compass. His father has a hard edge to him, but he is invariably committed to his friends and proud of his son’s accomplishments. Blanche proved the biggest surprise, more than just a pretty face in silken dresses. If you want principled but conflicted heroes, passionate and determined heroines, and cold-blooded, tireless villains, read For the King. Perhaps you will find yourself, like I was, transported to a turbulent time, rife with political upheaval and intrigue. Very few authors have that effect on me, but Catherine accomplishes it with unerring talent and tireless dedication to illuminating the past.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

In 1123, English villagers await the hanging of a petty thief who stole a chalice from a monastery. When a young, pregnant woman appears and pronounces a curse on three principal characters who allowed the hanging, it foreshadows a series of overlapping events to come.

Eleven years later, Tom Builder has nearly completed his work on a house, though his lifelong passion is to be the master builder of a cathedral. In the meantime, he has worked for William Hamleigh, son of the ruthless Regan and Percy Hamleigh, until William abruptly dismisses Tom. The Hamleighs had pressed William’s union with Aliena, daughter of Earl Bartholomew of Shiring, but she refuses to marry anyone she cannot respect. Neither William nor his parents can easily forgive a slight, which Bartholomew, Aliena, her brother Richard and even Tom eventually learn.

With no means of providing for his pregnant wife, son Alfred and daughter Martha, Tom wanders around England. He meets a mysterious forest dweller, Ellen, and her awkward son Jack, who offers them a brief respite from their journeys. Tom suffers a series of misfortunes that culminate in the death of his wife, and he decides to abandon their newborn at her gravesite. Luckily, a traveling priest finds the baby boy. The priest Francis delivers the child to Prior Philip, who possesses a genuine, selfless heart. His one flaw is pride that will not allow anyone to get the better of him. Francis arrives with news of a planned revolt against King Stephen of England, a plot supported by Bartholomew of Shiring.

Philip believes that delivering the news to a highly placed clergyman will benefit the Church. He meets with the ambitious Waleran Bigod and determines he can be of assistance. In exchange for his loyalty, Philip gains Waleran’s support for his quest to become prior of Kingsbridge. But he also learns that Waleran’s backing is costly, to more than himself. Waleran informs the Hamleighs of the plot and they launch a surprise attack on Bartholomew’s castle, resulting in the arrest and eventual death of Bartholomew, and the ruin of his children. Tom, who had worked at Bartholomew’s castle before the raid, now travels to Kingsbridge with Ellen and their respective children. He is desperate and Ellen’s son Jack provides him work with an impetuous decision to burn down Kingsbridge Cathedral.

Before his death, Bartholomew extracted oaths from Aliena and her brother Richard that they would do everything possible to regain Shiring. Others have their own designs on the children’s birthright: Philip and Waleran have competing interests in the stone quarry, while the Hamleighs want the property outright. King Stephen’s decision brings the conflict to a boil, ensuring that Philip, Waleran and the Hamleighs will remain lifelong adversaries.

Although Aliena and Richard know nothing of Philip’s role in their downfall, he soon becomes their benefactor when Aliena enters the wool trade and Philip becomes her first buyer. She prospers at Kingsbridge, ensuring her brother’s training as a knight in King Stephen’s service, but remains totally ignorant of the attachment Jack has developed for her. The only rival for Jack’s devotion to Aliena is his admiration for Tom’s work. He pursues the study of it with the same zeal as he does Aliena. Tom’s son Alfred becomes his rival in both aspects. Philip sees the perfect solution to their rivalry in having Jack become a monk, but the boy’s passion for building the new cathedral and Aliena can’t be suppressed for long.

Kingsbridge has prospered and cannot escape the notice of the Hamleighs. When William attacks the town, Tom Builder dies. William burns Aliena’s wool stores. Penniless, she accepts Alfred’s marriage proposal to maintain the support Richard requires. She makes love to Jack on the night before her wedding, but still chooses Alfred. Devastated, Jack leaves for the Continent. Ellen puts a curse on the wedding, and the birth of Jack’s son ensures Alfred and Aliena will never be happy. Aliena sets out to find Jack and she does, at a moment where he has learned about working with stone and his heritage. It's time to return and continue the work on Kingsbridge Cathedral. The novel comes full circle, with the revelation of some of the characters’ earlier connections and to the thief hanged in the prologue.

The Pillars of the Earth is one of the best works in historical fiction, in terms of its immense scope and rich details. It’s not a short read, but an entertaining one. The writing tugs at the emotions, evoking sadness, happiness and spirituality. Of all the diverse characters, Prior Philip truly stands out. His persistent flaw plagues him, but he demonstrates the difficulty to rise above the challenge each time. It isn’t often clear he is aware of the consequences of every action, but those that result in great harm to others cause him deep pain. The characterizations of the villains are also excellent. Their actions are sickening, yet there is also understandable motive behind almost each deed. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and the cable series that premiered this summer. While there is often something lacking in the dramatization of historical fiction, and certain story elements are different, both the series and the book are excellent. The Pillars of the Earth is a must-read for anyone who loves historical fiction.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Wake of Forgiveness by Bruce Machart

In 1895 Texas, Klara, the wife of Czech immigrant, Vaclav, dies in childbed while giving birth to Skala, their fourth son. Consumed by grief, Karel’s father will never be the same now that the light in his life is gone. Vaclav becomes cold and hardened as he struggles to raise his young sons alone on his land in Lavaca County Texas.

From the moment Skala was born, he has been shunned by his father. He and his brothers are raised lovelessly, with no respite from hard work as their father harnesses them to ploughs to work the land each day. This permanently and physically damages each boy by causing their upper spines and necks to lean to the right or left, depending on which side of the plough they worked. When Karel develops a love for horses, his father uses him to race his best stallion against that of their neighbours for tracts of land as the ultimate prize, accumulating wealth for his father.

Bruce Machart’s debut novel The Wake of Forgiveness is a deeply poignant story about family, loss, love, and despair. But most of all, it is about forgiveness. Set against the harsh Texas landscape, the author spins a clever tale of young boy's emergence into manhood. Machart's prose is beautiful and moving, taking the reader through scenes of violence as well as those of great tenderness.

The tale is complex, the characters multi-faceted. With the use of flashbacks, the story slowly unfolds, captivating the reader as it goes. This is not an easy, casual read. Rather, this is a novel to read slowly, carefully, to savour at one's leisure so that the reader can fully understand the depth of the story. The story sent my emotions into a tailspin of sadness, anger, outrage, and sympathy. Gentle women, broken souls, and hard men, against a harsh landscape make this a memorable read, one that will linger with you long after the covers have been closed and the book turned to rest on a bookshelf. A definite award winning novel in the near future.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The winner of Eadric the Grasper is...

Misha1989! Thank you for posting a comment on Eadric the Grasper. Jayden Woods would be delighted to send you a copy of the novel. Please contact her directly.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fatfingers: A Tale of Old New Orleans by Charlie White

Reviewed by: L. Gregory Graham

Etienne is a simple man. What he wants most in life is a profession that is less hard on his hands. His sobriquet, Fatfingers, comes from the damage he does to his digits as a carpenter. Unfortunately, Nova Scotia in 1755 is not a place where the British care much about what an Acadian wants. England, Spain, and France are fighting over large chunks of North America, and if a few settlers die in the process, then so be it.

Pretty grim, right? In fact, the story is a romp through an unsettled period that rings truer in this book than it does in the history books.

The widow Partridge was a comely sort of woman, who having lost her husband to a wasting fever at the age of twenty, cultivated a lost and melancholic air that left persons of the opposite sex strangely disoriented.

That is how a very minor character in the story is described.

It was the type of air that, once having breathed it, you had to sample it again to see if it was as bad as you first thought.

That is how the smell inside an Indian lodge house is described.

Yes, it is a funny book. How does funny mix with historical novel? It mixes very well in this case. There is no time for stoical heroes, or bosomy heroines. This book deals with practical questions like who do you pay off when the French have vacated the city, and the Spanish haven’t arrived yet? Or, where do you get the flour for his bread when the Spanish governor eats at your restaurant every evening?

Etienne does what he must to survive and thus begins a story that stretches from Nova Scotia to New Orleans with side trips to South Carolina, Florida, Haiti and Cuba thrown in. Along the way he collects a motley group of characters that hang together because none of them has had a better offer. They include a former mistress to a government official in Haiti, a Spanish journalist sent to Cuba to get her out of Spain, an Indian, a former pirate turned food inspector, a former ship’s captain who may or may not be a pirate, smugglers and, of course, a boat load of angry Spanish prostitutes.

The city of New Orleans is a character also. It is a malevolent place much prone to giving its inhabitants incurable diseases, where anything left untended succumbs to rot, or sinks out of sight in the firm mud that passes for dry land. It is an immoral place where the major economic activity is smuggling. Drinking, rioting and knife fights are the entertainment. The city resists all attempts by the various authorities to bring law and order to the masses. One gets the impression that it was named New Orleans only because the names Sodom and Gomorrah had already been taken.

Etienne is pragmatic; he opens a restaurant, makes excellent food, and pays off anyone who comes through the door demanding a bribe. Unfortunately, nothing stays simple for long. Soon he becomes a smuggler to buy flour from the British to make the rolls and breads that governor craves in his restaurant. His brother-in-law, the Indian, is wounded on a smuggling run requiring that they kidnap a surgeon from Pensacola; the woman he loves is accused of murder and witchcraft requiring a rescue from a prison ship in Havana harbor; half-hearted revolutionaries plot government overthrow at dinner at his restaurant; and a Yankee bounty hunter by the name of Cudgel tirelessly dogs him at every step.

Etienne finds himself in a topsy-turvy world. Bravery and ethical behavior are punished while lying, slander, smuggling, cowardice, and drinking carry the day. Money and power are always corrupt, and the guilty must be punished even when they are not guilty. Where others see moral turpitude, Etienne sees opportunity.

As busy as he is trying to stay alive, Etienne still finds time to invent Cajun cooking, and develop the perfect mixed drink for Kentucky bourbon if only he could remember the ingredients the next morning. Yes, it is that kind of book.

I would heartily recommend this book to anyone who is tired of the standard fare in historical novels. These characters come off fresh and funny. The women rescue the men, the men rescue the women, Etienne becomes a hero only after every other option is closed to him, government at its worst is subverted, and life goes on in a tiny town on a small rise beside a very muddy river.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Deep Creek by Dana Hand

The time is 1887. The place is Deep Creek, along the banks of the Snake River (Idaho and Oregon's natural boundary line).

A murder mystery ensues, set in the West when moneyed men and women (and countries) plot and play politics in their strategic game of power and greed.

What goes around, comes around. Eventually. From this side of reality and beyond.

A Judge, a Company investigator, and a Metis tracker band together to solve the mass murder of more than 30 Chinese gold miners. Secrets abound from all sides. Who is telling the truth?

Based on real events during the fading Gold Rush days of America's West. Relive the last days of the fated mining camp, the personal struggles of the investigating party, and the choices to be made that will eventually change the course of everyone's life!

A great look into a window of time past, of the reality and harshness of prairie life, for foreigners and American-born alike. Well written, with twists and turns that hold the reader's interest far beyond the last pages of the story.

Book Giveaway: Eadric the Grasper: Sons of Mercia Vol. 1 by Jayden Woods

“His name was Eadric, which meant ‘power,’ and he had been acquiring it consistently his entire life.

Once a bastard and a swineherd, now a thegn. Who could say what he might become tomorrow?”

Eadric the Grasper: Sons of Mercia Vol. 1

Author Jayden Woods explores the life of the “worst Briton of the 11th century” in her new novel, Eadric the Grasper: Sons of Mercia Vol. 1. From Eadric’s humble beginnings as a fatherless swineherd, to his meteoric rise as ealdorman of Mercia in northern England, Woods has provided readers a multifaceted view of one of history’s supposed villains.

A casual conversation about the Danish invaders plaguing England occurs between Eadric and a young boy, revealed as the king’s son. It swiftly leads to a summons to the court of King Ethelred the Unready, where, after some shock the king demands to know what he should do about the Danes. Eadric’s answer seems simple enough: deal with the invaders, as they have done with the English in the past, a history mired with their broken promises. Eadric is unprepared when his answer precipitates a massacre of the Danes, including his master Wulfric’s host. In the aftermath, Eadric soon has an unforgettable encounter with the king’s daughter Aydith, which will influence the course of his life in years to come.

Throughout the intervening years, Eadric attempts to survive the politics, famines and Danish raids that threaten to destroy England. However, he cannot remain ignorant of the upheaval for long because Ethelred soon demands that he kill a great Saxon landowner. Seeing little choice, Eadric submits to the command and gains land for his troubles. By then, his reputation is growing unfavorably in the kingdom, as people question his influence. In an attempt to impress Aydith, he leads a ragtag band against the Danes and gets himself captured. Although he survives the ordeal, it is a turning point for Eadric, the moment where it becomes clear that prevailing winds of change can easily sway his loyalties.

For her part, the princess Aydith is a staunch, defiant enemy of the Danes. She harbors a dangerous secret, one that often imperils her life. Not even the mutual attraction between her and Eadric and their later marriage can distract her from the goal of riding England of the invaders. She refuses to stand by helplessly while her father vacillates and capitulates to every Danish demand for even more bribes. The worse betrayal for her is when she thinks Eadric’s sole focus is on his selfish interests, and that he cares nothing for the fate of England. Although she tries to remain a dutiful wife, they clash and mutual suspicions ruin their former happiness. When Eadric finally discovers the secret that his wife has held from him, he must decide whether his own interests or her safety is his paramount concern. His choice surprised me.

Like Aydith, sometimes I struggled to reconcile Eadric’s character. I understand that for Ms. Woods it is no easy feat to turn the “worst Briton of the 11th century” into a man with distinct motivations. It was not often clear whether Eadric was on a quest for peace throughout the kingdom, or just in his domain, in an idyllic world of his own creation. Because of this ambiguity, he could easily swing from supporting Ethelred and his children to betraying them in the next instant. Although his relationship with Aydith grew difficult over time because of those actions, I never got the sense that they had ever stopped loving each other. Many of the characters refer to him as a coward, but I never thought of him in that way. If anything, he acted boldly and through astute observation of the swift changes coming to England, he did his best to forge a good life for him and his family. Still, his boldness accompanied a strange and dangerous naiveté that did not allow him to appreciate the full consequences of his actions at times. As in life, Jayden Woods’ Eadric remains a complicated character.

Jayden Woods has graciously offered a FREE copy of her new novel, Eadric the Grasper: Sons of Mercia Vol. 1. Please leave a comment on the blog this week for your chance to win.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

An Unforgettable Journey Through Italy and Life by Federico G. Martini

An Unforgettable Journey Through Italy and Life by Federico G. Martini

For anyone trapped in the rat race of a big city who juggles career, family, and the pressures of life, this novel will certainly strike a chord.

In this fascinating contemporary story, Davide is a manager in a factory, and one day, while trapped in a traffic jam on Milano’s ring road, he suffers a panic attack. Plagued by anxiety and exhausted by the demands of a stressful career, on an impulse, he decides to leave his work and family and wander through Italy in search of healing. Without clear direction, he throws caution to the wind, and embarks on a journey of discovery through small towns, major tourist centres, and visiting historical locations. Along the way, he meets many colourful characters who touch his life in a myriad of ways, teaching him to focus on the richness of life.  With each encounter, he learns the meaning of simplicity and tranquillity, and his spirit slowly begins to heal.

This tiny novel is vivid with descriptions of Italy and the Italian lifestyle. As I read along, it felt as if I was being taken on a grand tour of Italy visiting Florence and Venice and the many quaint towns and villages along the way. The novel describes the beauty of the Italian countryside and the splendour of its cuisine. Davide sweeps us along a fabulous voyage from the north to the southernmost regions of the Italian countryside. Through its poignant prose, I could not help but feel Davide’s pain and yearning for a better life.

Federico G. Martini is an award winning Italian novelist. For further information on Federico and his books, I encourage you to visit

Magician's Spell by Debra Denson

In early 19th century Europe, Lady Johanna Cornehl is an Admiral’s daughter who boards the Magician’s Spell, a ship under the command of Captain Harold Monroe who was dishonorably discharged from the navy by her father. This sets the tone for much tension by a colorful cast of characters throughout this romantic sea yarn.

Magician’s Spell is Debra Denson’s first novel. It is an easy read with a compelling story line. The main characters struggle against adversity and enmity in the form of those who conspire to keep them apart. At times, I found the main character, Johanna, to be a feisty heroine who sometimes came across a little spoiled, but who slowly improved as the romance between her and Harold bloomed. The villain, a ruthless shipping mogul is well drawn and adds good overall tension to the tale. Like many first novels by debut authors, Magician’s Spell does have some minor flaws, which is expected, but it has a compelling storyline and the climax was well written with a captivating, satisfying conclusion. A sequel, His Apprentice is scheduled for release in the next several months.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What Alice Knew by Paula Marantz Cohen

Ms Marantz has brought together the characters of the author Henry James, his doctor brother William and their sister Alice, into the Victorian thriller story of the Whitechapel murders of the 1888.

The three siblings with their various idiosyncrasies add colour and entertainment to the story. Henry the self- opinionated and in many ways shallow writer, whom I liked as he was well meaning and harmless in his conceits. William the self-effacing medical man who still grieves for the loss of his baby son and Alice, who, to save herself the trouble of visiting her friends and relations, decides to become an invalid so they all have to pay court to her as she reclines in bed.

William is enlisted from his sanitised world of medical academia in America to assist Scotland Yard in their hunt for The Ripper. Alice decides that she is best placed to work out the identity of the man all London wants to find, so she sets her brothers to accumulate clues and information that she can seive through to solve the crime.

Among the contemporary characters the James’ siblings discuss and some they entertain, are John Singer Sergeant, Oscar Wilde, George du Maurier, Ellen Terry and Mark Twain. Alice develops an affinity for Walter Sickert, who also has a keen interest in the murders, and she asks him to paint her portrait.

The investigation itself takes a while to get underway, as the author likes to set scenes of intellectual discussion about social mores of the times, recent developments in psychology and commonplace attitudes toward the working class. Her research is extensive but sometimes the narrative is dragged down by the minutiae of everything circa 1888.

Two incidents add tension at the beginning of the story, an enigmatic gentleman who helps Henry into a carriage when he has gorged himself at a dinner party and collapses in the street. Then Henry narrowly escapes being pushed in front of a speeding curricle. When William and Henry enter the East End, they are taken aback that the ‘ignorant classes’ are suspicious of authority and less than eager to co-operate with their questions.

William develops an attraction for a beautiful woman, though in a typical male manner he also expresses jealousy of Alice’s attentions to Mr Sickert. His interest in psychology means he delves into his motivation, his attitude to his own ‘Alice’ at home in America and Alice’s reasons for her attraction to Mr Sickert. Unfortunately this tends to get very heavy and is a distraction from the original plot, turning this work into less a work of fiction and rather an academic and social exercise.

Alice does prove very observant with the clues the brothers supply, spotting minor details which I feel only a woman would notice, like the quality of notepaper etc. I did enjoy the atmospheric Victorian world in which these characters exist and their observations about themselves and each other are very entertaining. There is a scene with a spiritualist which was particularly amusing.

I didn’t expect a conclusive solution to this story as there wasn’t one in real life, but even so the end was unsatisfactory in its vagueness.

Ms Marantz Cohen says at the beginning that she wrote the book to bring life to historical characters and events. She has certainly done that, and as a slice of Victorian life this book is fascinating, but you won't find out the identity of Jack The Ripper.