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88 Reviews
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny, dramatic, suffused with humanity
I enjoyed Fanny & Stella immensely for it's drama, comedy, humanity and shocking revelations about sexual behaviour in mid-Victorian London. Neil McKenna has done a superb job in bringing out the flighty, sympathetic characters of the two leading ladies and their circle of friends. We think of those times as being inhibited. Well, for many, it was non-stop shenanigans...
Published 18 months ago by Mr. J. K. Dale

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting reflection
Gives you an insight to a very different time and the main characters are interesting.

I found the trial reporting rather drawn out and the aftermath a little rushed
Published 15 months ago by Ed Mag


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring, 14 Feb 2014
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Very repetitive. Gave up half way through. Each chapter I was waiting and hoping, in vain, for the story to progress. I began to believe that even the author became confused with the he/she stuff.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Page turner, 23 Feb 2013
I have just finished reading this highly entertaining book. It is wonderfully witty but also poignant. Neil McKenna brings to life the tragic/comic story of cross dressers Fanny and Stella and their entourage and provides a fascinating glimpse into the Victorian sexual underworld. Extremely well written, a difficult book to put down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant but...., 23 Feb 2013
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As a tale of Victorian England and a sensitive portrayal of the principle characters, the author succeeds admirably. My only criticism is it is a little short on the court drama and perhaps too little is made of the obvious reluctance of the Attorney General to bring the case to court. Perhaps there was too little evidence to develop a convincing case of a rift between him and the Prime Minister, but the seed of doubt was sown anyway.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly good book., 21 Feb 2013
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Purchased this after reading a review in a Sunday paper. It threw an interesting light on late Victorian hypocrisy though I felt it left a few questions barely answered. (e.g, why these two were selected for prosecution; why the prosecution persevered in following the case through with such little chance of success) An interesting and thought-provoking read
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hmm interesting., 21 Feb 2013
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D. K. Grant - See all my reviews
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It is hard to believe it is not all fiction! Still an interesting read about a period of 'gay,' history.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too long and rather boring, 20 Jun 2013
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Found it interesting at first but then got a bored with it and found I drifted so lost track of the thread. Thought they came across as selfish people, who didn't really care for anyone even each other.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Skilful stuffing makes a little go a long way, 23 Mar 2013
When two striking ladies Miss Fanny Park and Miss Stella Boulton were arrested for causing a disturbance in the Strand Theatre on 28th April 1870 the police discovered that in fact two young gentlemen had used skilful stuffing to make a little go a long way, and that a thick layer of cosmetic adornment covered not very much substance. This book about them shares the same qualities. The story needs to be told and Neil McKenna tells it well. What at first seems like a response to a public outcry proves to be a long planned victimisation, in which some participants were left to face the music, while others seem to have been helped to escape. It is a riveting story. Much of the embellishment adds period detail and interesting context but embellishment it is and key elements and events are repeated many times. The primary material available the author cannot possibly have provided the basis for his detailed descriptions of the emotional state of the characters, and much of the detail can be nothing more than glorious supposition. For example the vague death notice of one character leads to the supposition that he died of syphilis, the cue for a gory description of his last days. Read with that knowledge it is great fun for those not easily shocked.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Repetitive and flowery, 24 Mar 2013
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Repetitive and flowery - goes over the same ground time and time again. One of those books that could have been so much better ....
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Clunky style, 8 May 2013
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P. Burnard (Wales, UK) - See all my reviews
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Generally, I enjoyed reading this book. I think, though, that it could have be given a closer edit. I got a bit tired of a device that was overused all the way through the book. It took the form of repetition along the lines of: 'He felt bad, very bad, very very bad'. Rather than serving as an amplifier, this device got on my nerves.

The continuity was also patchy with some periods of time being dealt with in some detail, while others were too short. Overall, though, a fascination view of a particular period.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical evocation of a little-known world, 17 Feb 2013
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I loved this book. Simple as that. It's an inspiring and often funny affirmation of the human spirit to refuse to be squashed or tied down by the constraints of others. Fanny and Stella had balls. And Neil McKenna's sparkling style brilliantly brings their topsy-turvy world to life.
Now, where can I buy a bombazine bustle?
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Fanny and Stella: The Young Men Who Shocked Victorian England
Fanny and Stella: The Young Men Who Shocked Victorian England by Neil McKenna (Paperback - 16 Jan 2014)
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