Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue - 410 pages
Book Blurb: Born to rough cloth in working-class London in 1748, Mary Saunders hungers for linen and lace. Her lust for a shiny red ribbon leads her to a life of prostitution at a young age, where she encounters a freedom unknown to virtuous young women. But a dangerous misstep sends her fleeing to Monmouth and the refuge of the middle-class household of Mrs. Jones, to become the seamstress her mother always expected her to be and to live the ordinary life of an ordinary girl. Although Mary becomes a close confidante of Mrs. Jones, her desire for a better life leads her back to prostitution. She remains true only to the three rules she learned on the streets of London: Never give up your liberty; Clothes make the woman; Clothes are the greatest lie ever told. In the end, it is clothes, their splendor and their deception, that lead Mary to disaster. Emma Donoghue's daring, sensually charged prose casts a new sheen on the squalor and glamour of eighteenth-century England. Accurate, masterfully written, and infused with themes that still bedevil us today, Slammerkin is historical fiction for all readers.
My Review: 3 stars
I love historical fiction and I was drawn to this book due mainly to the time period and also due to the main character’s seemingly strong attraction to finery, good clothes and fashion. Usually these stories take the underdog, helpless, poor main character and we read along as she overcomes prostitution. This is no such story. I suppose that’s closer to reality than other books I’ve read similar to this, but alas, it’s also much more depressing. Sadly, I didn’t feel a strong connection to any of the characters so there wasn’t a ton of “rooting on the underdog” in this book for me. The author has a gift for writing and was able to transport me with both sight and smells to streets of London.

Tags: Historical Fiction, 1700's, London, 2011

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