Laura Gallagher

When She Croaked

Frog Music

By

Picador 416pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

Emma Donoghue’s eighth novel takes as its starting point the unsolved murder of historical figure Jenny Bonnet, a cross-dressing frog-catcher living in San Francisco in the 1870s. The murder mystery, however, is tangential to the real heart of the book. The protagonist is French émigré ‘Blanche’ Beunon, circus acrobat turned high-class prostitute and, more recently, mother; Jenny Bonnet is only the catalyst for dramatic change in Blanche’s life as she frees herself from a parasitic lover-pimp and fights for her child and independence. Two narrative strands – one opening on Jenny’s death and following Blanche in the aftermath; the other apprising us of preceding events – mount in parallel to the twin denouements that are the solution of the murder and Blanche’s acquisition of self-knowledge.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Stuck for a gift idea for Father's Day? Subscribe to Literary Review and get a FREE copy of 'An Impeccable Spy' –… ,
    • 'Gone. All gone. The ease, the pleasure, the effortless eloquence' From May 1995, Margaret Forster's withering rev… ,
    • RT : SO excited to tell you about this event! 😆 The amazing digital colourist, will be joining w… ,
    • 'Peters was unashamed and evidently unshamable, an impostor who wholly inhabited his fabrications and who indignant… ,
    • ‘At every waking moment Barbara Hepworth was aware of herself as a woman paving the way in a man’s world’ From the… ,
    • The entertaining Howard Jacobson is in conversation with Prof John Mullan at the Queen’s Park Book Festival on Sund… ,
    • 'A modest and retiring man, Thompson spent his life describing apple varieties and recommending the best – Ribston… ,