Jane Stretch is fifteen and crippled when her questionable parents and pretty older sister abandon her at the mercy of their latest landlady. Luckily, Mrs. Swift, for all her vagueness and frustrated aspirations to gentility, is not unkind, and Jane finds a home with her, and an occupation assisting her medical husband. True, Doctor Swift only seems to assist “inconvenienced” young ladies from the theaters, but Jane begins to think she could be happy with him – until fate interferes in the double shape of Jane’s own conscience and a volatile Cockney singer.
Set in turn-of-the-century London, gritty, vivid, and rich in beautiful imagery, this is a little gem of a book. Jenkins etches London’s seedier side in sharp detail, and Jane, the “cripple” struggling to survive in a hostile world, armed only with good brains, imagination and a loving disposition, is a well-rounded and endearing character. Although not perfect (some readers may find the open ending a bit of an anticlimax), Little Bones is an absorbing, well written, and poignant exploration of the power of inherent goodness against the unfairness of life. Recommended.