Lord Geoffrey Loveall is the richest man in England, reclusive, and heretofore heirless lord of the sprawling manse of Love Hall. He arrives home one fateful morning with a most unusual package - a baby that he presents as the inheritor to the family name and fortune. In honour of his beloved sister, who died at the age of five, Loveall names the ...
Lord Geoffrey Loveall is the richest man in England, reclusive, and heretofore heirless lord of the sprawling manse of Love Hall. He arrives home one fateful morning with a most unusual package - a baby that he presents as the inheritor to the family name and fortune. In honour of his beloved sister, who died at the age of five, Loveall names the baby Rose Old. The household, relieved at the continuation of the Loveall line, assiduously ignores the fact that this Rose has a thorn...that she is, in fact, a boy. Rose grows up inside the endlessly fascinating maze of halls and lawns that make up Love Hall, along with the two inquisitive and ebullient servant children who are her only friends; all three are educated by Rose's adoptive mother Anonyma in the musty recesses of the Octagonal Library. Rose grows up blissfully unaware of her own gender, casually hitting boundaries at Love Hall's yearly cricket game and learning to shave her face even as she continues to wear more and more elaborate dresses, as befits a growing young lady. Until, of course, the fateful day when Rose's world comes crashing down around her, and she is banished from Love Hall as an impostor by those who would claim her place as heir. Filled with unexpected plot twists, outrageous characters, odd details and a vivid, velvety historical background, this is an epic, Dickensian story. Fanciful, whimsical and wry, it is also a moving meditation on the agony of adolescence and the universal difficulty of determining one's identity. Set in the early years of the nineteenth century, and an England at once as believable as Sarah Waters' and as grotesque as Mervyn Peake's, Misfortune is a gothic novel for our times - a huge, rich, funny, exciting work of fiction that is destined to become a classic.
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Publishers Weekly, 2005-01-31 This gender-bending romp about a boy raised as a girl in 19th-century England-penned by musician John Wesley Harding, writing here under his real name-more than lives up to the hype it will surely, ahem, engender. On a night in 1820, effeminate and ineffective (at least according to his mother) Lord Geoffroy Loveall, happens upon a baby abandoned in a trash heap. He brings it home to Love Hall, the grand estate that he is set to inherit, and pronounces the baby his daughter and heir. There's just one problem: the baby is a boy. Geoffroy refuses to accept this fact, but the happy news causes his ailing mother to die on the spot. The baby-named Rose-is raised as a cosseted and doted-on proper young lady, and the legitimate heir, a ruse that works beautifully until Rose begins to wonder about the facts of life: why, for example, does she suddenly feel the urge to pee standing up, like her friend Stephen, rather than squatting like his lovely sister, Sarah? Adolescence (and a few whiskers) only causes further confusion-as does the word "BOY," which begins to ominously appear around the estate. Eventually, Rose's cover is blown, and the scandal prompts several sets of greedy relatives to descend, claiming the Loveall inheritance as their own. There's a huge cast of characters, plot twists aplenty, loads of historical detail (including original Victorian ballads) and a satisfying, tied-together ending that also, in two epilogues, manages to offer up a poignant take on historical interpretation. Yet this lengthy and involved tale makes for speedy reading. Best of all, Rose's original narrative voice is engaging from the get-go: smart, funny, observant, and even hip. Agent, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh. (Apr. 11) Forecast: Like The Crimson Petal and the White and Sarah Waters's Fingersmith, this clever historical potboiler could soar sales-wise, especially with the added Harding hook. 15-city author tour. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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