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|Print List Price:||£6.76|
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From a childhood in India cosseted by her father and servants, she was at best ignored by her mother and at worst openly despised by her. On the death of her father her mother quickly remarries and thankfully her stepfather seems to have affection for her. However, he submits to his wife when she insists on sending Eliza away to be educated and they agree on his family in Scotland.
Imagine how she must have felt being sent away by her mother to sail across the sea with Mrs Innes a lady she didn't even know, into London and then straight onto Scotland. What an adjustment Eliza would have had to make from the sweltering heat and spicy food of India to the cold solitude of Montrose. Then to be recalled years later by her mother who has arranged marriage for her, to an old man, albeit it a wealthy gentleman, she has never met. Young and naïve, Eliza runs away with Thomas James, a `charming' family friend who promises to look after her. Of course she's seduced, leading to their marriage, but all is not well and she eventually leaves him; leading Eliza on a path of one lover after another and her eventual emergence as Lola.
Her love affair with Dujarier is heart-breaking. Her love affair with King Ludwig I of Bavaria makes her many enemies but in her single minded view of the world if people are not her friends, then they must take the consequences of being her enemies. She's a master manipulator and her sheer greed seems to overtake reasoning eventually leading to her loss of everything and instrumental in the abdication of the King.
The abandonment by her mother must have been hugely significant in shaping the lady she became. The biggest insight into Lola's sheer determination, single mindedness and arrogance is this passage from the book `a title would give her a position in society. It would show the world that she was not just some hole-in-the-corner mistress, but that she was loved and honoured by a king. And wherever she was, she hoped her mother would hear of it `.
I couldn't help but feel compassion and even admiration at times for this Victorian celebrity, way before her time. Achieving her ambitions in this day and age would be difficult but in Victorian times - unbelievable.
Highly recommended, but why four star instead of five. Lola's relationships felt rushed in places with not enough substance and I wasn't compelled to read this novel at every available opportunity. Also the formatting for Kindle wasn't brilliant, no table of contents, making maneuvering around difficult; but I still found it a really enjoyable. Well done Harriet Steel.
This is a Becky Sharp who climbs the ladder wrong by wrong to get what she wants: money and respectability. Get past chapter one ( see later) and the first few chapters of the story are gripping; I couldn't put it down which is rare in many books these days where authors have lost the knack of pace - because so few publishers' editors seem to be active critics and give us the same old authors with second-rate books.
Only...and you'll have to place this in context...the last half was a struggle and not a page turner in a good way. This is a book of two halves.
This is a self-published book and the standard of presentation and writing in terms of description is easily as good as a published novel, indeed, better, and that's without all the submissions committees and editors. But one can see why a publisher might not pick it up - it does need a bit of a look at in terms of character and pace. The second half loses interest and begins to meander because the character essentially stays the same. Lola isn't made into a Becky Sharp but comes over as either nice or not hard enough - and so we aren't as breathless for the next chapter as we really were in the first half.
And can somebody go to Spain for a month or two and come back as a Spaniard?
So, a reader wants a book to be value and enjoyable. This book was worth every penny and I'm richer for reading it - and we ought to support self-published authors in a market where published authors have books out that aren't nearly as enjoyable.
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