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Missy Paperback – 2 Jul 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (2 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099501554
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099501558
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,162,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"When a brilliant, award-winning Scottish playwright produces a first novel, you don't expect to be recommending it as a perfect beach read...Funny and exhilarating - Moll Flanders on drugs" (The Times)

"Narrated by one of the more luminous characters in recent fiction" (Guardian)

"A gorgeously sassy opening, it is surprising how winning, and how powerful, the voice of Dol McQueen, 19th-century American "flash-girl" actually is... Hannan has traversed the limits of history and given us a thoroughly modern woman" (Independent)

"Hannan is comparable to no playwright working today so much as the Renaissance masters. He has a density of expression, a control of populous scenes, a sense of dramatic development and a sheer verve which few writers, living or dead, can touch" (Sunday Times)

"An action-packed page-turner...riveting" (Scotland on Sunday)

Book Description

Sex, drugs and the Wild West! Dol McQueen, the frank and funny narrator of Missy, is an anti-heroine to fall fiercely in love with.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ms. T. Park on 12 May 2008
Format: Hardcover
I saw Chris Hannan's stage play "Shining Souls" when it was on in London - it was one of the best plays I've been to. Now in his first novel "Missy" he takes us on a journey across silver-rush America in the company of Dol McQueen as she flees a vicious pimp and a terrifying gang of damaged kids sent to hunt her down and reclaim the opium she's stolen. The story telling is extraordinary - an adventure across the landscape that slowly and shockingly reveals the true nature of Dol's flight. The things she's running from more terrible than even the vengeful Harry Fan the Chinese gangster and rightful owner of the opium ("He once gave a girlfriend of ours chloroform, then skinned her face") The scene where Dol discovers quite how disturbed her mother really is had the hairs come up on the back of my neck before it brought me to tears. Hannan's writing is superbly vivid, arresting, occasionally brutal and yet regularly laugh out loud funny. This is an important book that gives you everything you might expect of a great and totally original western, while weaving in an epic journey to understanding and forgiveness. I've never read anything like it before and I've read tons.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Miss R. H. Hunt on 27 April 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book is amazing on every level, I totally adore it and cannot recommend it highly enough. Set in California in 1862, this is tale of the old American west with a difference - it's some 'flash-girls' that go off and have themselves a high old adventure in the middle of the Nevada desert. Oh, yes, and there's a crate of stolen 'Missy' (Opium), an evil pimp, some creepy lawless kids, and some Indians too. They've a lot to contend with.

Written using first person narration we see the world through the eyes of 19 year old prostitute Dol McQueen, who is so alive, so free and so darn sassy! Hannan has captured her voice so completely, so truthfully, the effect is startlingly magical. She will make you laugh, she will make you yearn, she will make you cry and despair.

For underneath the vibrant, audacious, and often humorous plot set against the very visceral, yet somehow mythic landscape of California, Hannan presents us with much darker themes to explore. We are taken into the world of the saloon and asked to confront the harsh social conditions under which these women lived and worked. It is a world where suicide and addiction are commonplace, a world where the the women are prevented from having truly loving and fulfilling relationships with men. It is a world where the only family these displaced women have is each other, for better or worse.

Indeed, it is the theme of family which lies at the heart of this book in its depiction of Dol's unfulfilled relationship with her alcoholic mother, which I found to be real, truthful, sadly comic and a deeply moving deptiction of the nature of addiction and the repercussions for loved ones.
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Format: Hardcover
"Missy" is a superb read, a novel that grabs you from the opening lines, and keeps you hanging on the edge, right up until the end.

The prose is a wonderful combination of the language of the Wild West, but with a thoroughly modern edge to it. The narrative of the novel is as vibrant, energetic and compelling as the central character herself.

It is seen through the eyes of Dol McQueen; a young flash-girl (prostitute), who sets off from California, with a bunch of pals, to "shove out for the silver mines of Nevada and a fresh start." Dol is an opium addict, and strikes 'lucky' on her journey, when she bumps into the good-for-nothing pimp, Pontious, who needs to hide away a crate load of the stuff, until the gangster mob that he has stolen it from, have given up looking for it.

Dol's dilemna is how to steal the crate from Pontious, whilst throwing the gangsters off her scent, but there's also the question, when is it a good time to "cross the river" and go straight, and how to cope with her disturbed, alcoholic mother?

Set against this fascinating backdrop, the real core of the novel is Dol's epic journey of self-discovery. Her moment of illumination makes a powerful impact that leaves you feeling deeply moved, long after you have finished reading.
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Format: Hardcover
Dol McQueen is an irrepressible and frustratingly unreliable prostitute with a damaging addiction to opium – the eponymous missy according to the contemporary slang. Set in the virtually lawless Wild West of 1862 Dol and her small group of girls move east from San Francisco and take up work in a brothel in Virginia City. There Dol meets the local police chief, Capt Duffield, whom she hopes will take her away from the lowlife. But he lets her down, but before going assists with a madcap scheme, she has to spirit away a hugely valuable case of pure high-grade opium. Not surprisingly, there are some very unpleasant characters also after this cache. Allied to this is Dol’s efforts to establish relations with her selfish, alcoholic mother, who is also happy to do tricks in the brothel for a drink. This a rambunctious, explicit and rip-roaring novel narrated in the language of the times. It is also a time when life was cheap and casual brutality and violence the norm. Dol, though a charming narrator, is a deeply flawed and ultimately rather pathetic character. An entertaining novel, but somewhat shallow.
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