The Walworth BeautyBook - 2017
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 London flat for the swelling city's outskirts, moving to the quiet Walworth cul-de-sac of Apricot Place. Immersing herself in local history, she reads the work of Henry Mayhew, who documented Victorian working class life, and she senses the past encroaching: a shifting in the atmosphere, a current of unseen life.
1851: Joseph Benson has been employed by Henry Mayhew to help research his articles on the London poor. A family man with mouths to feed, Joseph is tasked with coaxing testimony from prostitutes. They resent his scientific distance, and he strains to keep it, not immune to their temptations. Roaming the Southwark streets for answers that will let him keep his job, he finds Apricot Place, where the elegant and 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-ghostly murmurs 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 Michèle Roberts at her masterful best.