No Liz Jensen book is ever like any other by her, or anyone else for that matter. The three I’ve now read were all quirky in different ways, and great fun to read. Dirty Little Book, as I shall call it for short, combines a historical setting in 19thC fin de siècle Copenhagen with Wellsian time travel to London’s new millennium and would be considered steampunk if it wasn’t for the central romance at the heart of the story.
Charlotte is a part-time prostitute, but is always on the lookout for better opportunities for herself and her lump of a sidekick Fru Schleswig, (whom everyone seems to think is her mother). She gets them a job cleaning the house of the widow Krak, whose husband has disappeared under mysterious circumstances. The widow is desperate to marry the Pastor, but Professor Krak’s body has not been found, and there are strange goings-on in the basement where Charlotte is not allowed to go. Charlotte ‘gets to know’ the Pastor for leverage, but eventually she decides she has to brave the basement – where she discovers the Professor and his time/wormhole machine and she and her limpet Fru Schleswig are whizzed into twenty-first century London docklands, where she discovers not only a whole host of ex-pat 19thC Danes all happily living new lives, full of wondrous labour-saving gadgets (Fru Schleswig adores vacuum cleaners), but she meets a twenty-first century bloke – Fergus and falls properly in love for the first time. But that’s not the end of her adventure as Fergus and Charlotte end up getting separated in time again and must find their way back together.
I really enjoyed this witty and slightly saucy adventure; like the best farces, it moves apace and is full of energy. Charlotte is a very likeable and spunky (!) heroine, Fergus is a dear, and Fru Schleswig is a hilarious lardy creation. Although it has the time-travel and steampunky edge to it, it isn’t science-fiction – it’s a Cinderella story with a difference! (9/10)
Liz Jensen’s novel War Crime for the Home was one of the first posts on my blog back in 2008 – I loved that book too and you can read my thoughts here.
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