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Laura Blundy Paperback – 4 Mar 2011
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On a sultry afternoon, Laura Blundy exacts a terrible revenge on her wealthy husband and, scarcely able to believe her crime, flees to her lover. As they contemplate the future, Laura pieces together her troubled past. Destitute on the mean streets of Victorian London, she bore a child at 15, served time in jail and suffered a crippling accident, only to find herself imprisoned by her saviour, the cruel surgeon Lockhart. Billy, the young man who rescues her from the Thames, offers Laura what she yearns for--love, respect and respite from the grief racking her soul. But as Laura's tale unfolds, the lovers discover it was not chance alone that brought them together.
Myerson has crafted a haunting love story, rich in painstakingly gathered detail. Like Suskind's Perfume, the text pulsates with the sights--and stinks--of the city. She also paints a vivid, almost visceral portrait of motherhood and loss. At times, however, the reader's enjoyment of the story is clouded by the Dickensian detail. One can only read so much relentless suffering before longing for a little humour--something which Myerson, unlike Dickens, has not factored into her account. This is an intelligent and deeply moving book, but one needs nerves of steel to reach its deeply rewarding conclusion. --Matthew Baylis --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
‘A sad, sexy thriller, shot through with startling events, grisly details and a love story with a conundrum you’ll be pondering for days.’ Independent on Sunday
‘To have put into words that which is beyond words is a measure of the author’s achievement – and her cunning – and the resulting book hits hard in the middle of the night.’ the Times
‘A gory little Victorian leg amputation, a red-haired surgeon, a crime of passion and an eerie atmosphere sees Julie Myerson on dark and dangerous form.’ ElleSee all Product description
Top customer reviews
There are a couple of linguistic anachronisms,I think. The word "grotty"and the phrase "fun time", for instance, jarred on me - they didn't seemto fit the period. But the fast-moving, straightforward, almostjournalistic, style suited the breakneck speed of the story, in which the"action", as in Greek tragedy, took place in a twenty-four hour period,even though the events leading to it and surrounding it covered a muchwider time-scale. This is the first novel I have read by Julie Myersonand I shall be interested to read others.
The author of three critically acclaimed novels, most notably Me and the Fat Man (1998), Ms. Myerson has now created an otherworldly protagonist, an enigmatic woman capable of both nefarious acts and abiding devotion. It is appropriate that Laura Blundy's life, which is related in flashbacks, unfolds at a time when illness pervades; cholera takes its toll. London's city sewers are being built so that the city "will have a proper sewerage system and lives will be saved." Yet now the "normal stink of Thames," the dank sewer tunnels and the debris ridden river banks anchored by the Baptist Chapel with its forlorn, broken windows mirror Laura's murky thoughts, which are disseminated by Ms. Meyerson with candor and clarity.
Dickensian woes pale beside the travails of Laura Blundy; Dickensian villains are pussycats compared to her.
Once an educated daughter of privilege, her father's death and financial reversals have forced Laura onto the streets. She sleeps among the crawlers and dowsers on the steps of the workhouse with only a stained tarpaulin for shelter from the rain.
We learn that while imprisoned in Tatum Fields she was made to wear a thick foul smelling veil. When she protested that she could not see, the reply was, "There's nothing to see...This is it. This is the punishment - darkness and solitude - the best way to contemplate the errors of the soul."
She is 38 when we first meet her, "but my hair," she discloses is "mostly black and the teeth I had left still had their whiteness and though my waist measured a little more now than the curved gap of two men's hands, I still had a lot of my young girl's punch."
More than punch is needed when she is run down by an errant carriage, and "her woman's bones are crushed like eggshell" beneath the iron wheels. Ginger haired Dr. Ewan Lockhart manages to save her life, but not her leg which he amputates.
Eventually, Laura marries the surgeon, a "carrot-nob" as she calls him and goes to live in the home that he shares with his mother, Eve. The older woman is a harridan who makes no secret of her distaste for Laura, and demands attention from her top floor room by rattling "a tin of barley sugar."
But Laura pays no heed for her mind is consumed with thoughts of the child she bore when she was 15, earning a penny an hour making party streamers "whenever the work happened to come along." Unable to feed the baby she had taken him to an orphanage to which she returned each week, asking to see Child Z as he was known, until the day she was told he was no longer there. She pined, she yearned, she ached to find her lost boy.
"......the truth is you carry a child in you and it seeps into your bones," she says, "and infects you for ever and you spend the rest of your life trying to get it back...."
She feels a similar addictive emotion for her lover, Billy, a married sewer worker some 17 years her junior. And, Billy, for reasons he cannot fathom is inexorably drawn to her.
Determined to be with Billy Laura commits a crime of unspeakable horror, which Ms. Myerson describes in grisly detail. However, this act is only prelude to an even more shocking denouement
Laura Blundy is not a book for the faint of heart, but it is an unforgettable story propelled by currents of foreboding, and delivered with sinister, stunning panache. Ms. Myerson knows how to weave a spell and she weaves it mightily well.
A strange book.