No Name by Wilkie Collins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I should mention that this guy is one hell of an interesting writer if I can go by anything said by Dan Simmons in Drood, since the author is the main character!
Putting that all aside, which I probably should as it is a really, really bad idea in the first place, I must tamp down my initial presentiments and judge this book by its own merits. Hard. So hard.
What we've got here is a very sensationalist novel decrying all the worst aspects of inheritance law and the stigma surrounding bastards. Or bastardettes, as the case may be. These poor girls are cruelly separated from their inheritance, and soon after losing both papa and momma, are beset with poverty as well.
Fortunately, we're introduced to Magdalen, the most vivacious and forthgoing actress of her age to only show in a single production only to use her talents across every scheme, gambit, grift she can possibly imagine with her new friend Captain Rag to GET HER MONEY BACK.
And when we get to this part of the tale, I'll admit I was pretty much hooked. What a rollercoaster! There's death after death and a revolving-door fortune and so many schemes and setbacks and you KNOW the servant is the Biggest Bad in the tale. And just when you think that having to battle through household after household in this drama wasn't enough, we're slammed in the face with utter desolation.
Indeed, for Magdalen, there will never be a name she can call her own.
Or will there?
The moral of the story is pretty much as sensationalist as you can get for the time. Wilkie Collins is HOT for 1862.
Please don't expect ACTUAL murdering going on or selling herself on the streets or anything LEWD like a close-up description of the skin texture of a frog.
Oh... wait... maybe you can expect that last one.
Quite fun. Quite fun. :) It would make a really fantastic BBC production, I think. :)
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