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A Good Victorian Love Story If a Little Slow,
This review is from: Fanny by Gaslight (Paperback)
Although first published by Constable in 1940 this tale of Victorian social habits and locations, with one or two deliberate exceptions, utilises authentic detail. The story is told by the heroine, Fanny Hooper, in the 1930s but relates to her life in the 19th century and is a tale of Victorian life as lived on the edge of society. The author and Managing Director of Constable & Co., Michael Sadlier, was a bibliophile and expert on Victorian life and literature and took great pains to ensure accurate detail within this fictional narrative.
The story recounts the life of Fanny Hooper, born out of wedlock and brought up by her mother and step-father in a central London public house which also provides rather more murky services. A disaster befalls this existence and she is rescued by her father and provided with a place in service but eventually this too falls through and Fanny must then earn a living in one of the rather more disreputable establishments that thrived in Victorian times. There are more twists and turns in the narrative that I will not relate, but these provide the author with plenty of opportunity for convincing period description.
This love story, for that is what it is, is well written, very graphic and captures convincingly the feeling of a Victorian adventure. The characters are well drawn and memorable and behave in highly credible ways. My single criticism is that at times Sadlier lets his descriptive passages and discursions go on for too long and this tends to seriously slow the forward momentum of the tale. I might also comment that the demure cover of the paperback is completely unsuitable and gives an entirely wrong impression of the contents.
A good story, if a little slow at times, which will be attractive to those fond of well told Victorian tales.