Author: Helen Pike
It’s no secret that I enjoy novels set way back when, one of my favourite books of all time is Pride and Prejudice and it always fills me with glee when modern day author’s can successfully transport me back in time.
I’ve just finished the last page of The Harlot’s Press by Helen Pike and I am in two minds about where the lead character, Nell’s, journey took me. Set in London in the 1800s, the story is a work of fiction but loosely based on some real historical events such as the Queen Caroline Affair.
Let me set the scene for you – London is dirty and the streets unsafe. The poor are begging while the rich get fat on fine foods and spend their nights with expensive silk gowned prostitutes. There is corruption, scheming and politics and the preachers and protesters get hung for their opinions.
Enter Nell, a teenage girl with a dead mother, a preacher for a stepfather, a radical brother dedicated to a cause and a younger “half-wit” sister. She is trained to work in the family printing press, but this is no occupation for a lady and when her stepfather gets thrown in jail Nell finds herself alone and on the streets of London.
Events transpire and Nell is swept up in a life as a gentleman’s harlot until eventually she escapes back to her “not so regular” life.
Murder, backstabbing and secrets are revealed and Nell’s future changes once again.
This book was well written, and you feel like you are really there – not the glamourous 1800s we are used to with ladies of leisure and romance, but the dirty, seedy world that is often hidden from us.
At times I found it hard to keep up with all the politics and did wish some of the other characters were more detailed as sometimes they came and went so quickly it was like they were never there.
All in all The Harlot’s Press is a good read that you will want to finish, but if it’s Mr Darcy you are after you won’t find him here…but that’s not necessarily a bad thing!
Beauty and Lace is an online magazine for women. We hope you enjoyed this article!