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on 19 January 2012
Living in Victorian London a young cripple girl is abandoned by her family. She is taken under the wing of Mr.Swift who helps young actresses who have 'problems'.
Unfortunately they meet Mr.Treble and things go very wrong, and the police come knocking at the door.
A dark atmospheric story with well written characters who have their own tales to tell.
The story had me gripped from the first to the last page and I have now bought two more of Janette Jenkins books as I was so impressed by this one.
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on 9 April 2013
1899 and it's survival of the fittest on the streets of London and for young Jane life is tougher than for most with not only the pain of her crippled bones to contend with, but the daily hurtful taunts regarding her as a useless freak of nature. Jane is bright and resourceful though and has a hunger for learning and knowledge. When her heartless family move on leaving her behind, she endears herself to her landlady and starts working as an assistant to her landlady's husband - a doctor who helps showgirls with their 'problems'. Through her work, Jane becomes entangled in the case of an unexplained death, but who is going to believe a poor cripple girl's story?

I thought this was going to be a run of the mill Victorian London novel - I was wrong. This was a beautifully and sympathetically written account of a strong young woman, who most unusually for fictional Victorian heroines was not reliant on her charm and looks and that made it all somewhat refreshing, I really felt for Jane and her plight. I loved the characterisation and the bawdy descriptions of the time - a very enjoyable and well written book.
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on 27 December 2013
It is 1899 Victorian England. But this is not a story of great mansions, gentry & fancy dress balls. In fact it is the underside of such affluence at a time when without such affluence one is left with very few opportunities & most especially in the circumstance of Jane Stretch.

Jane Stretch is a fifteen year old cripple abandoned by her parents & older sister. However, Jane is as bright as she is deformed "a cripple with brains" so to speak. She counts herself very lucky when the landlady of the home where she has been left offers her free room & board if she will assist her husband Dr Swift in his `medical' practice.

Dr Swift is dubious at best. His entire `medical' practice consists of assisting young ladies of the theatre who find themselves with inconvenient `problems'.

Johnny Treble - a famous music hall star has availed himself of the services of Dr Swift when his rich mistress finds herself in a predicament that Johnny cannot abide.

It is all a very fine arrangement until Johnny Trebel is found dead. Police investigations lead to the truth of Dr Swift being revealed & Jane is trapped by virtue of association & circumstances.

As she awaits trial Jane writes from goal:
"To Ned. Boy with Preacher's Sandwich Board. The Cock Hotel. Covent Garden.
Dear Ned,
Perhaps you have heard what has happened to me?.........There has been a lot of trouble. Whatever they write in the papers, please don't believe it. I am still your friend Jane.........."

"To the Apothecary, Floral Street, Covent Garden.
Dear Sir, You will remember me as the cripple girl who worked for Dr Swift. You gave my friend some medicine. I am sure that it helped. Thank you.
By now you will have read about me in the newspapers. I have been told their pages are full of awful details and sketches. I feel very ashamed........."

It is not the writing of this novel that has enthralled me, but Jane herself. She represents the best of us in her innocence & courage. As a young girl accustomed only to jeers & sneers, with her sadly misshapen body, Jane rises above her station with humility & honesty that cannot but be applauded. A true heroine.
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on 4 March 2013
This book was exactly the kind of book I wanted to read at the time, the story line is enticing and the character of Jane is very well portrayed from beginning to end - allowing the reader to truly see her developing character. It is easy to emphasise with Jane through her struggles, and see her grow as a person.

Overall a great read and highly recommended.
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on 24 February 2016
Fabulous book. Beautifully written and superbly researched. Absolutely loved it!
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on 23 October 2014
Such fine writing and a gripping narrative that lives in the memory.
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on 7 May 2014
I would not recommend this book really. Seemed to take an age to get going with lots of clichés. Sorry.
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