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on 21 July 2017
Rather well written, visceral, convincing. Kkeeps your atention and keeps you reading, which is half the game. Unfortunately the end is just a bit too puzzling for most people from what I can gather. It just doesn't seem to make sense on any logical level so leaves you perplexed and head-scratching. While I like a bit of complexity and also like open endings, this one just seemed to not make sense and therefore left you feeling a bit cheated.
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on 27 April 2004
This very strange book kept me totally involved. It is not immediatelyclear what the central theme is, whether it is a thriller, a love story ora ghost story, even whether the eponymous main character is real or not. In its description of the murder with which it opens and the consequentbuchery, as in that of the nineteenth-century amputation, it is shockingand stomach-turning; one feels almost like vomitting with Laura herself. As an expression of the sorrow caused by the loss of a child, thedesperation of trying to find a way of living without that child, and theobsessive search for him, it is both convincing and very moving. Thecharacters are vibrant and well-drawn, with enough detail to bring them tolife on the page. I found the end puzzling, and need to think about itstill - to say more would be to spoil the book for new readers.
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.
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on 16 October 2000
Set amidst the gritty poverty of Victorian London Laura Blundy is the mesmerizing exploration of a lost soul, a journal of obsessive love, and a harrowing tale that haunts.
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.
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on 27 February 2002
The best book I've read in a very long time. Myerson provides a rich depiction of Victorian England, and her narrator is utterly compelling. I could not put this book down. The central storyline - of a mother's love and loss - is absorbing, heartrending and ultimately, devastating. This story haunted me for months...
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on 20 September 2008
This is the 3rd Julie Myerson book i have read and after finding the first 2 excellent, i must say i found this one very confusing and not nearly as good as her other books. It jumps to so many different parts of the main charactors life, past and present, sometimes 2 or 3 times on a page. You really have to have your wits about you each time you pick up the book to read a few pages again as it just confuses you. I was determined to finish the book though. I found it depressing, sad, grim, and thankful i wasn't a poor person living in Victorian London, as my ancestors were. You couldn't warm to Laura, she isn't endearing but cold and heartless and annoying. The ending of the book puts things into place abit more but is still not fully answering your questions,
A strange book.
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on 30 August 2002
Was the author Laura Blundy in a past life? She seems to get deep inside the soul of the character. The book is dark and suspenseful. It jumps back and forth throughout the story but is written well enough for this to be effective rather than irritating or confusing. I have recommended it to one friend but it would not be everyone's idea of good book because it does not leave you with a warm glow - more of a clammy Thames shiver...
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on 5 November 2009
Very disappointing. I love Julie's book Something Might Happen but this was disappointing as the ending is so confusing that I actually have no idea what happened. If (and I don't want to spoil it for other readers) what I THINK might have happened, did, then it is a total cop-out. A non-story. Sorry I was not impressed.
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on 1 May 2001
I didn't want to pick this book up at all. It all looked too familiar; bedraggled but attractive waif is rescued from grim sojourn on London's cobbled streets by shy but sensitive up-and-coming young professional, who treats her to a lovely house, a new wardrobe and the promise of becoming a laydee. What a relief, then to find that Julie Myerson, with sly relish, unpeels all these conventions to reveal squirming, raw human nature capable of every extreme. To take us through, we have Laura- a caustically funny, ruthless narrator who sees through what her fellow-characters, and we, want her to be. There are grotesques aplenty, in a take on nineteenth-century that is more David Lynch than Dickens- amputations, sexual sadism and a cracking murder scene that's more culinary than gothic. But there's also a clear-sighted perception of what drives these figures to commit horrendous acts- not inhumanity, but humanity deprived of its most basic longings
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on 4 October 2013
Loved this book, very intriguing storyline, unusual characters (a slightly obvious ending) but a good read nonetheless. I would reccomend it.
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on 12 February 2001
This is an amazing novel about the experiences of Laura Blundy, told in her own words. It is set in the Victorian Era and describes the harsh deprivations of the times. Laura recalls the horrific events of her life, including the amputation of her leg, in a blunt matter-of-fact manner which serves to enhance the shocking details. It is also a mystery story as certain parts of Laura's life only make sense at the end after numerous plot twists. This book is definitely worth buying!
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