Little Bones

Janette Jenkins. Vintage U.K. (IPG, dist.), $15.95 (282p) ISBN 978-0-09-951656-9
In this atmospheric historical novel set in 1899 London, Jenkins (Firefly) evokes the ambience of a Dickens novel. Fifteen-year-old Jane Stretch is intelligent, hardworking, and a “cripple.” After her family abandons her, she finds work and lodging with a doctor—she will act as his assistant—and his wife, who never leaves their shabby house. Showgirls from the theater seek Mr. Swift’s medical services to remove “obstructions,” also known as “inconveniences.” He provides them a tincture to drink, leaving Jane with them as they miscarry. Without this position, Jane would likely end up as a beggar or in the workhouse, so she does what she is told, never considering the ramifications of her involvement in an illegal activity. Every other chapter flashes back to Jane’s childhood with her ne’er-do-well parents and flighty older sister. Jane notes with alarm her employer’s decline into alcoholism, which in conjunction with Mrs. Swift’s agoraphobia foreshadows the trouble to come. The novel’s ending avoids the melodrama typical of Dickens’s work and aims for a more realistic denouement to suit the ugliness of Jane’s life, but the result is heavy-handed. The vividness of the story’s setting is more successful than the story itself. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/2013
Release date: 07/01/2013
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-4090-5857-1
Paperback - 978-1-4458-9316-7
Hardcover - 288 pages - 978-0-7011-8194-9
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