The Walworth Beauty by Michele Roberts

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The river snakes through this story, but as well as London’s pathways and waterways, Roberts explores the human heart and, in lyrical language, locates beauty in unexpected places.
-Guardian

Synopsis

From the Booker-shortlisted author comes a sensuous, evocative novel exploring the lives of women in Victorian London, for fans of Sarah Waters, Emma Donoghue and Kate Atkinson 2011: When Madeleine loses her job as a lecturer, she decides to leave her riverside flat in cobbled Stew Lane, where history never feels far away, and move to Apricot Place. Yet here too, in this quiet Walworth cul-de-sac, she senses the past encroaching: a shifting in the atmosphere, a current of unseen life. 1851: and Joseph Benson has been employed by Henry Mayhew to help research his articles on the working classes. A family man with mouths to feed, Joseph is tasked with coaxing testimony from prostitutes. Roaming the Southwark streets, he is tempted by brothels' promises of pleasure - and as he struggles with his assignment, he seeks answers in Apricot Place, where the enigmatic Mrs Dulcimer runs a boarding house. As these entwined stories unfold, alive with the sensations of London past and present, the two eras brush against each other - a breath at Madeleine's neck, a voice in her head - the murmurs of ghosts echoing through time. Rendered in immediate, intoxicating prose, The Walworth Beauty is a haunting tale of desire and exploitation, isolation and loss, and the faltering search for human connection; this is Michele Roberts at her masterful best.
 

About Michele Roberts

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Michèle Roberts is the author of twelve highly acclaimed novels, including The Looking Glass and Daughters of the House, which won the WH Smith Literary Award and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Half English and half French, Roberts lives in London and in the Mayenne, France. She is Emeritus Professor of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia and was recently made a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres by the French government.
 
Published April 20, 2017 by Bloomsbury Publishing. 400 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction, Science Fiction & Fantasy. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Walworth Beauty
All: 3 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Above average
on Sep 18 2017

Roberts’ intense technique can sometimes overwhelm her storytelling, but this evocative tale of place, survival, and contact has a lingering impact.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Anita Sethi on May 21 2017

The river snakes through this story, but as well as London’s pathways and waterways, Roberts explores the human heart and, in lyrical language, locates beauty in unexpected places.

Read Full Review of The Walworth Beauty | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Suzi Feay on Apr 21 2017

Part time-slip novel, part ghost story, Michèle Roberts’ latest book flits butterfly-like between 1851 and 2011 to link a man and woman with very different attitudes but perhaps twin souls.

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