Very cool book about a poor girl in Victorian England who discovers that she can assert some level of finacial and emotional independence by becoming a prostitute. Her drive to avoid being someone else's chattel leads her to a number of drastic, and often unwise, decisions. Good portrayal of the severely limited number of options given to women historically. Also interesting because it refuses to romanticise the protagonist - you cheer her on her paths to freedom, but despise her willingness to abuse others to get the things she wants (and you pity her short-sightedness). Despite the cover picture, not a bodice-ripper by any means.
This book is terrific! If you're interested in the 1700s England/Wales, how young girls made money then (including prostitution), and class issues, this is the book for you. I loved the writing style. Donaghue wrote from the main character's point of view until the very end of the book when she switches to the POV of other characters also. It worked very well to give a larger picture of the story. I loved this book!
I picked up this book because I enjoyed The Crimson Petal and the White (Michael Faber) so much. This was very much in the same vein, a historical character study of a prostitute, but heavier on the character study and lighter on the romance feminist triumph. Mary was one of those characters that you know you should hate, but end up loving and siding with as the book develops.
Overall, not a great, but a reasonably good novel on the life of a prostitute in the mid 18th century. Worth reading.
I didn't really want to like Mary, but I found myself liking her very much and having a lot of pity for her and hoping that things would work out for her. If only she had not longed so much for the red ribbon. How differently would everything have worked out? But then again, would her life have really been that much better had she not wanted the ribbon?
It was refreshing to have a character with so many unlikable qualities and to have the sexual escapades seem so unappealing. The author did a good job of transporting me to 1760.