Dolly Vardon

Anton Holden. Boustrophedon Press, $19.95 paper (449p) ISBN 978-1-4904-5729-1
Holden (Prince Valium) spins a monumental truth-is-stranger-than-fiction tale in this vivid biography of his orphaned grandmother—who went by the name Dolly Vardon and was born into chaotic poverty, bought for pleasure, and doomed to a life of dysfunction. As a child beggar on the cobbled streets of Victorian London, Vardon met Harry Sydney Nichols, a wealthy rare book dealer and erotica publisher. Nichols’s foot and shoe fetish and insatiable sexual appetite sealed Dolly’s fate. She became Nichols’s ward—and a toy for society’s mightiest men. Holden’s account, which is based on stories his grandmother and mother told him, is truly gripping, bristling with rich, and often disturbing, details. And while readers may be surprised by the detachment with which Holden describes brutal scenes of rape, debauchery, and perversion involving his own grandmother, they will surely find this biography fascinating and well told.
Reviewed on: 01/27/2014
Release date: 06/01/2013
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!