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The Unpierced Heart Paperback – 13 Sep 2012

3.8 out of 5 stars 67 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (13 Sept. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241954223
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241954225
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 251,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

A compelling tale of death, despair and obsession . . . Wildly and knowingly melodramatic but done with such energy and ingenuity that it's also tremendous fun (Sunday Times)

Richly atmospheric and rattling away in fine style, it conjures 19th century high society and its sordid underbelly with verve and flair . . . Darby knows how to write a cracking novel . . . Darkly enjoyable (Metro)

This book really is a thing of beauty - and that's before you even open the cover . . . The illusion is maintained inside, because the debut novelist Katy Darby has wrought a truly gothic little gem that could almost have fallen through a wormhole, 125 years ago... Darby manages to retain the flavour of the authors she so obviously admires - Wilkie Collins, Arthur Conan Doyle - but at the same time establishes her own voice and creates a contemporary narrative . . . a rare achievement (Independent on Sunday)

A consistently engaging and suspenseful Gothic melodrama (Herald)

Thrilling gothic romance (Daily Express)

About the Author

Katy Darby studied English Literature at Somerville College, Oxford, and Creative Writing at U.E.A. where she received the David Higham Award. Her fiction has been read on BBC Radio, and she has published stories in Slice, Mslexia and The London Magazine, as well as winning prizes in several international fiction competitions. She teaches writing at City University, edits the short story magazine Litro (www.litro.co.uk) and co-runs the monthly live fiction event Liars' League (www.liarsleague.com). She lives in London.


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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Edward Fraser is, in spite of his youth, something of a dry old stick so when his closest friend at Oxford University, Stephen Chapman, lets his medical studies take second place to his volunteer work at a shelter for fallen women Edward is understandably concerned. Even worse, the main attraction in this line of work for Stephen appears to be the lady who runs the shelter - Diana Pelham - someone Edward suspects, with very strong reason, of having a rather shady past herself. The thing is, are Edward's fears for his friend justified or does he simply want to keep Stephen to himself and away from the lures of attractive females? Where exactly do his interests and motives lie? Edward isn't quite the straight-forward narrator he seems and while Diana Pelham clearly has a secret to hide is she wicked or merely misunderstood?

The Whores' Asylum is the first novel by Katy Darby and all in all it has quite a lot going for it. The action sequences, and the moments which have a touch of the macabre and the surreal in particular are all well handled. The book features an enraged bear dressed in a sort of harlequin outfit and kept prisoner in a cellar; it has scenes of shabby well-to-do men wearing masks and making free with ladies of the night in plush, velvet-draped rooms and it has, best of all to my mind, a description of a duel taking place one foggy morning which packs a real emotional punch; but where, for me, the book suffers slightly is with the pacing. I suspect the novel could lose twenty pages or so and would, if some of the descriptions of what the characters were thinking and feeling emotionally were slightly pared back, rattle along all the better for it.
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Format: Paperback
I was utterly fascinated by this book, could barely put it down and was looking for excuses where possible to find more time to read.

A book written in five parts, each part giving additional angles to the underlying story, but from a different protagonist. In every part of the book you feel sympathetic to the current protagonist, you share their opinion and heartache, trouble, worries, fear. It's an amazing example of how the same story can appear completely different depending on who tell it. But each part doesn't just repeat the same story over and over again but gives more depth to the reader's understanding of motives, history etc.

Truly amazing book that will stay on my bookshelf and that I will no doubt read again!
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a compelling story set mostly in the wrong side of Victorian Oxford. One of our main viewpoints through which the story is told is a rather prudish academic priest, and his voice is convincing enough that I found myself utterly involved in the story and somewhat genuinely annoyed with some of the characters - it's not often a book draws me in so well. It's not necessarily a light read ... many sections are rather exacting in their detail ... but I never felt like the story dragged. If you've enjoyed stories like Sarah Walter's Fingersmith, Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, or Gormenghast, then I highly recommend this. An easy five stars.
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Format: Paperback
I read this gripping novel almost in one sitting; I curled upon a wet winter Sunday and disappeared into Ms Darby's world. And it's not a comfortable world, full of vice, disease, betrayal and not-so-righteous anger, shot through with veiled horror.

I really enjoyed the way the story unfolded piece by piece, one contradictory narrative following another so that the reader is drawn in to make judgements, piecing together the full picture from clues and hints.

It's a wonderfully dark story, richly evocative of the seedy Victorian underworld. I particularly admired the way Ms Darby dissects her characters' outmoded attitudes and mores without ever judging them by 21st century standards. She leaves the reader to do that, and the impact of the story is much stronger because of it.
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By Keen Reader TOP 50 REVIEWER on 23 July 2015
Format: Paperback
This is an odd book in many ways; it certainly didn’t play out the way I had expected when I picked it up to read. Starting off as the story of Edward Fraser, a memoir he has written for his son who is now (1914) away in the War, it starts in 1895 when Fraser is starting at Oxford. There he meets his room-mate and soon-to-be best friend, Stephen Chapman, and their lives move steadily through their years at Oxford. But their views on life are widely different, as Fraser is of a theological and philosophical bent, whereas Chapman is studying medicine, and his decision to dedicate his career to the study and cure of diseases which are not talked about in polite society in the early 1900s causes them both to reconsider their relationship and the possibility of their remaining friends and comrades.

The book is divided into five main sections, and in those sections a part of the story is told from the perspective of five different characters, whose lives and interactions with both Chapman and Fraser are destined to test not only their friendship, but their whole outlook on life. It was when it got to the fourth section, which tells a part of Stephen Chapman’s story, that I began to wonder whether I was still reading the same book, as the narrative seemed to have shifted from an Edwardian tale to a ‘gothic’ tale designed to make the beating hearts of young women of a delicate persuasion thump even harder. Such decadence, such immorality, such scandal and debauchery, you’ve never heard the like, my dear!

I read to the end of the book, interested to see where the narrative went, and I’m not sorry I read it. But it did seem to lose sight part way through of what it wanted to be, and veered off wildly off a clear path into the weeds and undergrowth, as it were.
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