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Montmorency Paperback – 16 Apr 2004
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It's a perfect book to read to a child. Lots to talk about (the brutality of life in Wandsworth prison), not patronising (visits to La Traviata at the Opera House with the landlady and her daughter turning tricks outside or a foray into Balkan intrigue) - we were both sorry when we turned the final page.
Far more than a reworking of Jekyll and Hide, I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
Fast paced without too much detail, this is unusal enough to engage the imagination of a wide range of readers. I really must check out the sequel......
The plot was interesting, but not the most memorable. It progresses through various parts of Victorian London, going from prison, to the back alleyways, to the posh end of town and back.
I liked the way Montmorency thinks, his logic behind it all. The way he kept on top of everything was my favourite thing about the book.
It's a different take on the Victorian era, for me anyway. Unlike what I tend to read, this book makes no mention of anything paranormal or futuristic. This is simply a well researched tour of Victorian London, both the posh front and the underworld.
The characters were easy to distinguish, but, like the plot, not the most memorable. But they do stick with you somewhat, such as Cissie, who is most likely the most annoying character I have ever met in a book.
Overall: I give this strength 3 tea to a book that was good, but not amazing. Recommended for younger readers.
Montmorency is a very well told tale of a convict who hits upon the perfect plan for robbing London's rich and privileged inhabitants by using the new sewer system. Montmorency himself is something of a split personality (playing both himself and his amoral manservant), which provides a psychological complexity missing in many childrens' books. There are some sly laughs (notably at the expense of the ghastly hotelier's daughter who takes a shine to the anti-hero) and Updale has produced a plot that doesn't patronise the reader (she includes scenes giving Montmorency an interest in opera and compares the wealth of the aristocracy to the poverty of London's underbelly). The end of the book gives a hint at redemption for Montmorency and sets up an intriguing premise for future adventures, which I'm very much looking forward to reading.
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Obvious candidate for a film.