Fiona Stafford

In Apricot Place

The Walworth Beauty

By

Bloomsbury 389pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

Joseph, Madeleine, Joseph, Madeleine, and so on: the two stories in Michèle Roberts’s new novel, separated by more than a century, alternate from beginning to end. One moment we are in the seedy side streets of Victorian London, the next in a sleek bar in the City. More disconcerting than the shifting locations are the contrasting perspectives of Joseph, married with three children and newly recruited by Henry Mayhew to research another volume of his encyclopaedic report, London Labour and the London Poor, and Madeleine, sixty, divorced, no children, and now forcibly retired from her post as a lecturer in English. Joseph is profoundly discomposed by his current commission to gather evidence directly from London’s prostitutes, Madeleine by her decision to sport black fishnet hold-ups for an evening out, where she’s surrounded by smart suits and women much younger than she is, with no other fishnets to be seen. What begins with two isolated lives, almost like the opening of a sequence of short stories, gradually starts to offer points of connection, with the echoes growing more insistent and the chapters shrinking until all voices join together at last. 

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • What a charming, candid blogpost from one of our dear contributing editors. ,
    • RT : The first guess from one of my 1st graders was “death” and such an awed, somber, reflective hush fell over the clas… ,
    • Merry Christmas from Literary Review! Hope your stockings were laden with books, and the tree bending under the weight of further books....,
    • Last minute Christmas gift required? We're offering discounts on all our subscriptions (20% no less!) with the cod… ,
    • In this issue's 'Silenced Voices', Lucy Popescu writes of Thailand's restrictive lese-majesty laws and their latest… ,
    • "Gunn was a disciple of the American formalist Yvor Winters, but Winters’s poetry could never give off such a scent… ,
    • Christmas gift hunting? Why not give the gift of being even better read? We're offering discounts on all our subscr… ,