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Shark Alley: The Memoirs of a Penny-a-Liner (The Jack Vincent Papers Book 1) Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
I immediately saw that this novel has some similarities to the Flashman novels by George MacDonald Fraser. It is set in Victorian England, has a protagonist who is incorrigible, although with rather nobler qualities than Flashman, and who relates to the towering figures of the day, though in this case not military men but the lions of literature.
Jack Vincent is a hero of our time as well as of the nineteenth century. Born to a humble tailor who is condemned to imprisonment for debt, he finds he has a gift for story telling which proves his salvation. He fights his way to the top by dint of his own talent and hard work, only to be cast into the depths by vicious and spiteful enemies. One day the toast of literary London. The next day – just toast.
Carver is astonishingly skilled at the difficult feat of writing in a style reminiscent of the time while imbuing the narrative with a twenty first century sensibility. A couple of times early in the novel, his writing echoed the Victorian style a little too exactly for me but he soon returned to the faster pace and knowing style which so characterises the book.
Shark Alley is not only reminiscent of the Flashman books. There are touches of Dickens, Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle and even what seems like a nightmare glance towards The Life of Pi. Or maybe to Steven Spielberg.
This is an entertaining read for all lovers of historical fiction and for those, like me, who write it. I look forward to further instalments. Martin Lake
I was not disappointed. The early scenes in the Marshalsea debtors’ prison are indelibly evocative and make one realise just how desperate life was for so many at that time, and how privileged the majority of us are in the western world today by comparison - though it’s sobering to reflect that inequality is rising and that wars and circumstances beyond their control still impoverish billions of the world’s citizens. The insights into the Machiavellian twists and turns of literary society at the time are fascinating and equally believable; the action scenes at sea for me, as an amateur sailor and naturalist, were the magnificent icing on the cake.
So could the teacher walk the walk? I never actually had a moment’s doubt about that. Fact and fiction are woven imperceptibly in this thoroughly gripping story, and Jack Vincent and his fellow characters truly live upon the page.
The book has a striking colour cover in the Victorian style of 'The Illustrated Police News' and the type is nicely readable (i.e. not at all Victorian beyond the title font). In an ideal world de luxe edition readers might be presented with a pictorial section, assembled by the editor, with photographs of the documents, reproductions of title pages, period photographs (difficult given the date of the events) or engravings of significant characters. When the significant characters include Dickens, Thackeray, W.H. Ainsworth, Cruikshank, Count D’Orsay, Piers Egan, Flora Tristan, G.W.M. Reynolds, leading Chartists, even the models for Bill Sikes and Nancy, and the full cast of the dramatic events of the Birkenhead disaster, then the reader undoubtedly gets their money’s worth in the novel as it stands.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An absolute gem of a rip-roaring, spine-tingling, timber-shivering bumper of a book, superbly written. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
I hate Shark Alley. I hate it but I'm addicted. Truly, it's horrible. Unless you're the kind of person who can find beauty in terror. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Jana M Reys
This book is an excellent Victorian historical novel.
I have always been interested in Victorian penny dreadfuls as well as the history of Chartism (a working-class... Read more
An excellent novel, easy to read, which I found hard to put down. The other reviews give a good description of the relevance, context and importance of the book, and I am not sure... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Matthew
I used to think I knew Nineteenth century history and literature. And then I read Shark Alley. Spanning the first half of the century, the time setting of this remarkable book... Read morePublished 9 months ago by M. Lawson
This was a wonderful yarn, outdoing Dickens for authentic background and excitement. The characters all drawn with no holds barred, particularly the fascinating central character... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Jane Mcculloch
A great read. Thought provoking, fun and life affirming - even the corpses. All the right influences: Ainsworth and Dickens, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons; all the proper 21st... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Simon L.
Where does the fiction start and end? What part of Jack Vincent is real, what part Stephen Carver's imagination? Read morePublished 12 months ago by J R UTTLEY
A wonderful journey into the past. Shark Alley's author, Stephen Carver, is known to me as tutor and mentor from the Unthank Writing School, and an expert in Victorian literature. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Jane Markland