Nan Astley, an oyster girl from a seaside town in Victorian England, falls in love with a masher—a girl who performs in music halls as a boy. She picks up and moves to London, where she joins the act, but success isn’t without its downfalls, and she has all sorts of crazy adventures.
Published: 1999, 472 pp.
Obtained via: Library
Date started: 7.6.08
Date finished: 7.15.08
What I liked: The research that went into this book shows. You’re transported straight into fin-de-siecle London and sucked into the life of Nan. The running themes of secrecy and persistence—as well as the skillful prose—kept me speeding through this book at lightning pace. Plenty of sex scattered throughout the book, as well as honest takes on love and betrayal.
What I didn’t like: Some parts were frustrating, but nothing that I outright disliked. I was put off by the first chapter, which seems to be all about oysters, but after you get through that it gets straight to the point.
What I learned: The definition of picaresque, and how many common phrases today originated in Victorian England.