on 19 January 2014
Arrived exactly as advertised. I love the covers on this set, as I used to own three different ones but lent them to other people and never got them back, so I bought the set again but with these different covers, which I like because they fit more with the Victorian/Edwardian theme of the books and look more like Penny Dreadful covers and the cartoons that were around at the time.
on 28 May 2004
Having been a recent convert to Pullman and having thoroughly enjoyed His Dark Materials, this 3rd book of the Quadrilogy is FANTASTIC! I have been choked with emotion reading this, and reading so fast wanting to know whats gonna happen next!! Cant wait to read the fourth...
Excellent book, superbly written and veyr well balanced... just make sure u've read the ruby in the smoke and the shadow of the north before this one...
on 18 April 2007
I bought this having loved HDM & Ruby In The Smoke, but this...!
I'll be polite about it, though I've been seething since I read it. The story involves Sally Lockheart, now a young woman with a child. As this is the rather prudish Victorian era, the fact Sally isn't married is a scandal. Even so, at the beginning, Sally is living a comfortable life. Her world is torn to pieces, when she is handed a summons. A man is claiming to be her husband, which gives him rights to all her property, money, and most frighteningly of all, he will get probable custody of her young daughter, Harriet.
I love Sally. She wasn't a woman to take this lying down but she finds herself in a difficult position. The lawyers are imcompent, worse some of them don't seem to care. She is a woman, she must be telling lies. Everywhere she turns any shred of evidence that might prove that she is telling truth vanishes or is falisfied. Sally knows that she does not have any option but to flee with Harriet, giving her up to this unknown but contemptible man is just not an option.
So Sally goes on the run. She finds herself moving from place to place, hunted by enemies she can't see but knows are there. These enemies have put her an extremely nasty position. She has no money at all, for the bank has turned over all her assets to her 'husband.' Sally is destitute, alone.
Now here story drifts between Sally and a young socialist, a very good man called Goldberg. Goldberg is aware of the evils that are going on in London; poor housing, expoitation, prostitution, fraud. The weak are being exploited by cowards only too willing to take advantage of them. He reads about Sally's case in the paper and it occurs to him there's "Something not right about it." Filmsy. There must have been hundreds of these cases in the papers, did he have time to check every single one? It's he who rescues Sally from the brief situation of being homeless and gives her a refuge, and a purpose, with his fellow socialists.
Now this is where I began to seethe. I have no irritation with Pullman's politics, he writes about what he believes, as all good writers do. But I resent being lectured as I'm five years old & can't think for myself, especially when the story is gasping it's last breath at this point. I throughly disliked the elitism & sheer snobbery I was reading, despite all his protests to the contrary. Only the educated people could make a difference, well, sorry, this is rubbish. The sheer will to make a difference is what makes a difference. It would have quite nice to have some of the ordinary people, particularly Becky, who I adored, telling the idealists something. Seems to me that Becky could have said & done a great deal if she had been allowed to!
And the idealists had no faults at all that I could find. It would have great to see moments of impatience and anger with the people they were trying to help. You're not telling me they didn't get them because I wouldn't believe you. When people make the same stupid mistakes over and over, others don't always react with sympathy, especially if this involves the abuse of their children. Pullman seemed far too much love with the idealists, to show them as fallable humans, rather than saints. Instead, he sneers greatly at the fallable characters, (OK, some did need sneering at) but there is no balance here, none at all.
I'm afraid I couldn't tell you what happened in the end, I stopped caring. I stopped reading at the point where Sally influtrates the man's house to find out why he attempting to destroy her life.
It lacked all the wonderful, complex subtle parts of human nature, failings & strenghts, that made the characters so alive in HDM. Where was the soul in this?
Read it, if you want an adventure tale. I wouldn't if you resent being told how to think. You'll end up throwing it.
on 24 March 2001
I was tempted to not buy this book, when I knew that Frederick was not going to be in it. I walked into the bookstore, and almost walked back out again, but when I read the synopsis on the back, I bought it immediately. I was amazed at how the book sort of went around in a circle. You need to remember details from the first book to (Ah Ling) for this book to make sense. The Tzaddik amazed me, how could anyone be so cruel and cold hearted? How could anyone be so unkind to try and take Harriet away from Sally? Try to say that she was his wife? It seems a cold bloodthirsty thing to do. Still an amazing compelling read.
on 19 July 2001
This is the only book I have ever not been able to finish, adult or childrens, because it upset me so much! Having read all of Phillip Pullmans works it did not surprise me that the quality of writing would be so realistic and affect me in the way it has. I am only half way through and am still attempting to pluck up the courage to finish this without getting too upset. The thought of her losing her baby to a stranger and the total feelings of helplessness against the law and system are portrayed to make the reader feel every single emotion that she feels. Inspite of the fact (or maybe because of it) I myself am 30 years old with 3 children I can relate to the awful prospect maybe more than a younger reader can. However my advise would be to read the story (if you can) no matter what your age and all the authors other books. These should be the compulsory syllabus for schools. I wait with anticipation for this authors next works.