The heroine of the book captures the reader’s sympathy as her naivety, beauty and innocence are abused as her story unfolds. Born into the slums of Lambeth and set in Pre-Raphaelite London, the young woman is sent by her greedy aunt and uncle to be an artist’s (Oscar Frosdick) model in Chelsea. Her home is a London of slums, drug dens, poverty, thieves and con men. Her world takes on an even more sinister existence as her relatives make it clear she must sit for him and do whatever he asks. Unfortunately, he has a very possessive mother who seeks to remove the girl, Ivy, from her son’s life. The woman’s plans fail to devastating effect, leaving Ivy once more a victim to circumstance and vulnerable.

The girl is lost to the drug laudanum as she tries to blot out the reality of being used as a lure for skinners— leading wealthy children down alleys so that they could be stripped of their clothes and valuables.

This is a dark story that describes the abuse of innocence. The vivid characters and historical detail bring a cruel world vividly to life. This is done with great skill and despite the seriousness of the subject matter the book is not without humour. Each chapter heading is a mini revelation in itself. It is with huge relief that Ivy manages to escape and recover control over her own life.

This book is very good value for money and will be a challenge for a confident young reader.

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Buy "The Beggar at the Gate & Other Stories" for £2.05 (Kindle edition)

12 of the best stories selected from the 2012 Historical Novel Society Short Story Award







(UK) £5.99

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