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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Tiger in the Well - Philip Pullman

I like historical fiction.   I’m fully willing to admit that much historical fiction takes a somewhat rosy view of the past, and there’s quite a bit out there that glosses over some of the more unpleasant (to modern eyes at least) aspects of cultures in the past.

The Tiger in the Well pretty much embraces some of those less pleasant aspects of life in Victorian London, and runs with them.    I finished this book thanking various minor gods that I was born an American woman in the late 20th century.

For reasons in the last book that I will not go into because they’re fairly pivotal to that story, Sally Lockhart is now a single woman with a young daughter.    Harriet means the world to her, and Sally has built a fairly comfortable existence for the two of them.     This comes crashing down around her when a man she’s never met claims to be her husband, and Harriet’s father, and he’s done a convincing enough job that the law comes down on his side, and Sally is more or less forced to go on the run to protect Harriet.

Good lord, but were you ever pretty much screwed as a woman in that era’s legal system.    This book was fairly terrifying in places because of what other people were able to do to Sally, and her inability to get any help through the system.      She’s only able to free herself and Harriet by taking matters into her own hands, and going undercover in the household of this man.    What she finds leads far back into her past in ways she could never have imagined.

These Sally Lockhart books are really well written, but man, are they depressing.    I think I liked the first one best – they definitely get harder to read from there.    I’m really not sure I could recommend these, unless you’re trying to for the opposite of a warm fuzzy feeling from your reading.

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