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The Unpierced Heart Paperback – 13 Sep 2012


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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (13 Sep 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241954223
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241954225
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 583,156 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

A compelling tale of death, despair and obsession . . . Wildly and knowingly melodramatic but done with such energy and ingenuity that it's also tremendous fun (Sunday Times)

Richly atmospheric and rattling away in fine style, it conjures 19th century high society and its sordid underbelly with verve and flair . . . Darby knows how to write a cracking novel . . . Darkly enjoyable (Metro)

This book really is a thing of beauty - and that's before you even open the cover . . . The illusion is maintained inside, because the debut novelist Katy Darby has wrought a truly gothic little gem that could almost have fallen through a wormhole, 125 years ago... Darby manages to retain the flavour of the authors she so obviously admires - Wilkie Collins, Arthur Conan Doyle - but at the same time establishes her own voice and creates a contemporary narrative . . . a rare achievement (Independent on Sunday)

A consistently engaging and suspenseful Gothic melodrama (Herald)

Thrilling gothic romance (Daily Express)

About the Author

Katy Darby studied English Literature at Somerville College, Oxford, and Creative Writing at U.E.A. where she received the David Higham Award. Her fiction has been read on BBC Radio, and she has published stories in Slice, Mslexia and The London Magazine, as well as winning prizes in several international fiction competitions. She teaches writing at City University, edits the short story magazine Litro (www.litro.co.uk) and co-runs the monthly live fiction event Liars' League (www.liarsleague.com). She lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Gregory S. Buzwell TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 4 Feb 2012
Format: Paperback
Edward Fraser is, in spite of his youth, something of a dry old stick so when his closest friend at Oxford University, Stephen Chapman, lets his medical studies take second place to his volunteer work at a shelter for fallen women Edward is understandably concerned. Even worse, the main attraction in this line of work for Stephen appears to be the lady who runs the shelter - Diana Pelham - someone Edward suspects, with very strong reason, of having a rather shady past herself. The thing is, are Edward's fears for his friend justified or does he simply want to keep Stephen to himself and away from the lures of attractive females? Where exactly do his interests and motives lie? Edward isn't quite the straight-forward narrator he seems and while Diana Pelham clearly has a secret to hide is she wicked or merely misunderstood?

The Whores' Asylum is the first novel by Katy Darby and all in all it has quite a lot going for it. The action sequences, and the moments which have a touch of the macabre and the surreal in particular are all well handled. The book features an enraged bear dressed in a sort of harlequin outfit and kept prisoner in a cellar; it has scenes of shabby well-to-do men wearing masks and making free with ladies of the night in plush, velvet-draped rooms and it has, best of all to my mind, a description of a duel taking place one foggy morning which packs a real emotional punch; but where, for me, the book suffers slightly is with the pacing. I suspect the novel could lose twenty pages or so and would, if some of the descriptions of what the characters were thinking and feeling emotionally were slightly pared back, rattle along all the better for it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Achtel on 5 Mar 2012
Format: Paperback
I was utterly fascinated by this book, could barely put it down and was looking for excuses where possible to find more time to read.

A book written in five parts, each part giving additional angles to the underlying story, but from a different protagonist. In every part of the book you feel sympathetic to the current protagonist, you share their opinion and heartache, trouble, worries, fear. It's an amazing example of how the same story can appear completely different depending on who tell it. But each part doesn't just repeat the same story over and over again but gives more depth to the reader's understanding of motives, history etc.

Truly amazing book that will stay on my bookshelf and that I will no doubt read again!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By N. Gratton TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 20 Mar 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a compelling story set mostly in the wrong side of Victorian Oxford. One of our main viewpoints through which the story is told is a rather prudish academic priest, and his voice is convincing enough that I found myself utterly involved in the story and somewhat genuinely annoyed with some of the characters - it's not often a book draws me in so well. It's not necessarily a light read ... many sections are rather exacting in their detail ... but I never felt like the story dragged. If you've enjoyed stories like Sarah Walter's Fingersmith, Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, or Gormenghast, then I highly recommend this. An easy five stars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Angela Lovelace VINE VOICE on 24 Mar 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Set in the late Victorian period, The Whore's Asylum is a story told from more than one view point, its three main protagonists Edward Fraser, a rather moralistic young man who is almost pious to a great fault, his friend and companion Stephen Chapman, a whore's doctor and a woman, Diana Cornell that runs a place for fallen women.

The book is listed as being a tragedy in five parts and it is set out in five books, telling the story of the main characters as well as other people involved.

The story is told mostly from Edward Fraser's POV and starts with him writing an account of events from the past to his son. Fraser is in poor health and wishes to make his son aware of things from his past.

The story is written in a very unsentimental style, which is not a bad thing and I think it could appeal to men as well as women because of that. You feel annoyance at times at the principle character Edward Fraser for his unrelenting sense of right and wrong and the inability to see beyond that and judge people accordingly. it is only through a series of events that his manner is softened, although his affection for his friend Stephen Chapman is his saving grace.

The harsh realities of the seedy area of Oxford, nicknamed "Jericho" are painted in the book, although as more of a backdrop of where most of the story takes place than to add to it. By the time you have finished, you have a very different view of the character from when you set out on their journey. It is a tale of hardship, love and reality of the times.

To be honest, it took me at least a 100 pages in before the story really grabbed me, although it was well written, it had rather a slow pace to it. I liked it, but found it a bit of a plod in places and it was not until the last 100 pages or so that I found it hard to put down so I could get to the conclusion of the tale.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By JK TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 24 Mar 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Very light and frothy Victorian style melodrama with a beatifully designed book jacket which has been made to resemble a cloth cover. There are a few Victorian style illustrations inside the book which are part of the concept but I'm afraid that's about all I have to say because I just didn't enjoy reading "The Whore's Asylum". The problem seems to be that publishing companies are putting so much spin on their publications you end up with a book that's nothing like the synopsis and that seems to be the case here. I was expecting a dark, gritty Victorian, Dickensian, tale of prostitution and poverty but that's not what I got. OK; the book's beautifully written, but I found both the plot and the characters shallow and never particularly real or believable. The story unwinds itself slowly through the testament, statements, of various people who were all witness to particular events but there was never anything that hooked me or kept me interested and I found myself in that horrible situation of scanning rather than reading. Perhaps it's a case of more style than content because it seems that much more work has been put into the presentation than went into the plot.
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