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Customer Review

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unconventional, uncompromising, underestimated, 27 Feb. 2002
This review is from: Doctor Who: The Adventuress of Henrietta Street (Doctor Who S.) (Mass Market Paperback)
Thank goodness for writers like Lawrence Miles, who are determined to laugh in the face of tradition and provide something truly refreshing.
Henrietta Street is a worryingly complex book, and Miles' absorption in historical narrative is apparent not only in the detail, but the length of this book (the text size is miniscule, indicating his anxiousness to have the unedited story published.
The book totally defies conventional criticism, since it is by no means a conventional work. Lawrence Miles has created a tortuous world, which blends the hard-edged realism of the 18th Century prostitution scene with surreal and expressionistic intervals in the world of the Apes.
It would be easy to dismiss this book as being a cynical exploitation of current film phenomena: specifically Moulin Rouge and Planet of the Apes. Clearly if you subscribe to this point of view, you have failed to appreciate the depth of Miles' prose. His historical-narrative style is punctuated with revitalizing anecdotal asides that leaven the palpably ominous tone of the book. The barbarity of the Apes, along with the cloak-and-dagger mysticism of the multiple factions in the novel, makes for often harrowing reading.
Although the book is undoubtedly an experience, it could never be mistaken for an enjoyable one. Henrietta Street is simply so unconventional and so blatantly radical that it will never be recognized as a Doctor Who story as such. In the short months since its release, it has the kind of die-hard following that is associated only with books that are loathed by the majority of their readership. The Adventuress of Henrietta Street is nothing if not esoteric.
In fact, it is rather a pity it was a Doctor Who story at all, since it suffers from comparison to more traditional outings. Any such comparison is futile, however. Henrietta Street is as comparable to its close cousins as chalk is to cheese.
Lawrence Miles' magnum opus was destined from its inception to languish in the awkward 'love it or hate it' category. This is probably just as well: there is a faintly perverse buzz one gets from being in a derided minority.
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