The Strange Adventures of H

Written by Sarah Burton
Review by Marilyn Pemberton

This book is told in three parts, the first by H, the second by Doll and the third by Halcyon; all are the same person, but the latter two are masks behind which H hides whilst she tries to survive.

H, so called because she was the seventh child to parents who could not agree on a name, was born in 1650 and orphaned at 13. She and her sister go to live with an aunt in London, where all goes well until she is raped, loses her sister to the plague and is finally thrown out of the house to live as best she can in a plague-ridden London. The horrors of that time are well described, and the reader cannot but sympathise with H and her unhappy lot.

The second part is told by Doll, H’s persona whilst she survives in the only way she can, by prostitution. The story continues as Doll is recruited by Mother Creswell and leads a not unhappy life servicing her gentlemen, a role she finds she actually enjoys, whilst earning an ever-increasing purse.

The third and final part is told by Halcyon, who is by now a Miss with her own house and a small but select number of lovers. The other threads that have been interwoven into the tale are now all tied off, and H finally gains what she has been striving for.

This book is well written and the narrator, in whichever guise, is engaging and her faults are easily forgiven. The language, particularly in conversation, is of the period and often amusing. H does indeed have many adventures, although I would not call them strange. This is a very readable, interesting and actually quite exciting book, which I am happy to recommend.