The Linnet Bird

Written by Linda Holeman
Review by India Edghill

In 1820s England, young Linnet Gow is forced into prostitution by her stepfather. Using her wit and courage, Linnet survives life as a child prostitute and becomes canny enough to capitalize on a stroke of luck that lets her jump from the lower into the middle class. After learning to act like a lady, Linnet voyages to India, seeking a new life. But in India, her dark past catches up with her, and Linnet is faced with a series of agonizing choices and daring adventures before she finds peaceful fulfillment at last.

While the writing is adequate, the plot and historical work are less than stellar. As she climbs the social ladder from the gutter to the ballroom, Linnet suffers through every cliché in the “whore to lady” genre and coincidences beyond counting – and endures anachronistic historical detail. (For example, India in 1830 was not yet in full Raj mode; there were only thirty houses in Simla at the time.) The book reads as if it were supposed to be set in the 1890s, rather than the 1820s-30s.