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Monday, October 28, 2013

Review: The Journal of Dora Damage

Title: The Journal of Dora Damage: A Novel
Author: Belinda Starling
ISBN-10: 1596913363

My Review:
I had a stack of books on my to-read shelf, but when I picked this up and read the first few pages, it immediately went to the top of the list. I had to write a brief review to say this was an excellent read. It was much more gripping and thrilling than I'd expected from a story set in a bookbinder's workshop. There are certainly some shocking and twisted aspects to the story, but more because of the shocking and twisted things that humans do to each other. Really though, it is about rising above evil while learning to embrace passion. I'd recommend it-- not for the faint of heart, but for a fan of historical fiction who can stand to get their hands dirty.

From the back cover:
London, 1860: On the brink of destitution, Dora Damage illicitly takes over her ailing husband's bookbinding business, only to find herself lured into binding expensive volumes of pornography commissioned by aristocratic roués. Dora's charm and indefatigable spirit carry her through this rude awakening as she contends with violent debt collectors, an epileptic daughter, evil doctors, a rheumatic husband, errant workmen, nosy neighbors, and a constant stream of wealthy dilettantes. When she suddenly finds herself forced to offer an internship to a mysterious, fugitive American slave, Dora realizes she has been pulled into in an illegal trade of sex, money, and deceit.
The Journal of Dora Damage whips up a vision of London when it was the largest city in the world, grappling with the filth produced by a swollen population. Against a backdrop of power and politics, work and idleness, conservatism and abolitionism, Belinda Starling explores the restrictions of gender, class and race, the ties of family and love, and the price of freedom in this wholly engrossing debut novel.

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