Walking in Pimlico

Written by Ann Featherstone
Review by Ann Northfield

This is Ann Featherstone`s first novel, and I, for one, will be looking forward eagerly to her next. She has previously written a non-fiction book about this era and her detailed knowledge helps immerse the reader in the sights, sounds and smells of the seedy theatres, spa towns and backstreets of Victorian London and Birmingham.

The novel is narrated by two different characters, each with their own distinctive voice. The characters are so believable it is as if you are talking to them and having the story whispered down your ear; it is almost a shock to put down the book and return to the real world. The distinctive language of the time is used to great effect to create the atmosphere and evoke the period without making it too arcane or obtuse. ‘To walk in Pimlico’ is apparently period slang for being handsomely dressed, and this is a strong desire for one of the characters.

The book begins with a vicious murder. One of the narrators, Corney Sage, clog dancer, comedian and general entertainer, sees the murderer and in fear for his own safety, decides to change his place of work. The murderer pursues Corney through a series of different locations, with many twists and turns en route. Anyone who liked Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith or who has the remotest interest in the Victorian era is sure to find this a very rewarding read. A real gem.