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From the Booker-shortlisted author comes a sensuous, evocative novel exploring the lives of women in Victorian London, for fans of Sarah Waters, Emma Donoghue and Kate Atkinson 2011: When Madeleine loses her job as a lecturer, she decides to leave her riverside flat in cobbled Stew Lane, where history never feels far away, and move to Apricot Place. Yet here too, in this quiet Walworth cul-de-sac, she senses the past encroaching: a shifting in the atmosphere, a current of unseen life. 1851: and Joseph Benson has been employed by Henry Mayhew to help research his articles on the working classes. A family man with mouths to feed, Joseph is tasked with coaxing testimony from prostitutes. Roaming the Southwark streets, he is tempted by brothels' promises of pleasure - and as he struggles with his assignment, he seeks answers in Apricot Place, where the enigmatic Mrs Dulcimer runs a boarding house. As these entwined stories unfold, alive with the sensations of London past and present, the two eras brush against each other - a breath at Madeleine's neck, a voice in her head - the murmurs of ghosts echoing through time. Rendered in immediate, intoxicating prose, The Walworth Beauty is a haunting tale of desire and exploitation, isolation and loss, and the faltering search for human connection; this is Michele Roberts at her masterful best.
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From the Booker-shortlisted author comes a sensuous, evocative novel exploring the lives of women in Victorian London, for fans of Sarah Waters, Emma Donoghue and Kate Atkinson

About the Author

Michele Roberts is the author of thirteen highly acclaimed novels, including The Looking Glass and Daughters of the House, which won the WHSmith Literary Award and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Her most recent novel Ignorance was longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction in 2013 and her memoir Paper Houses was BBC Radio 4's Book of the Week. She has also published poetry and short stories, most recently collected in Mud- stories of sex and love (2010). Half-English and half-French, Michele Roberts lives in South-East London. She is Emeritus Professor of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. micheleroberts.co.uk

Reviews

A magnificent writer -- Helen Dunmore * Guardian * Michele Roberts is one of those writers descended perhaps as much from Monet and Debussy as Virginia Woolf or Keats ... To read a book by her is to savour colour, sound, taste, texture and touch as never before * The Times * Her fictions are high-risk, unconventional ... The otherwise cautious reader is taken almost without realising it into dangerous and exhilarating territory -- Rachel Cusk A disciplined and elegant writer * Observer * Writing of such a high calibre can make you feel that the life of the mind is everything, that the acute observation and intelligence of the writer is a sort of mirror to what matters most in life ... Strong and lustrous prose -- Susie Boyt * Financial Times * Roberts's greatest skill is the insight with which she writes about women caught up in heightened states of awareness . . . Her writing breaks new ground * The Times * One of Britain's best novelists * Independent on Sunday * Roberts is at her best when she writes about food and sex, about feelings and desires that cut across boundaries of time and class * Sunday Times * Roberts's polished, ornately wrought prose adds depth and a sense of acute realism to her captivating story--which flows seamlessly between the protagonists as they take turns narrating this accomplished and inspired novel of wartime France. -- Starred Review for IGNORANCE * Publishers Weekly * Expect to walk, sleep, eat, feel, touch, smell and fear with the characters in this rich and haunting tale of two lives colliding through time ... With her gift for awakening all out senses and hurling us into strange goings-on, Roberts has created a kaleidoscopically unsettling tale * Sainsbury's Magazine * An exploration of imagination as the keyhole through which we may glimpse the otherwise unreachable past...A novel fuelled more by poetry and ideas than by events: words are laid out to be savoured, everyday details are observed and sensually reframed...The stylistic mastery will delight readers -- Lucy Atkins * Sunday Times * London's seamy, irrepressible history is the star of an atmospheric ghost story...A slow beginning gives way to an intoxicating blend of the fanciful and the gritty -- Hephzibah Anderson * Mail on Sunday * Roberts interrogates past and present through vivid detail, from the velvet-slippered rooms of the Victorian pleasure house to the slick city bars in the modern metropolis * Herald * Roberts is a rare talent, a mellifluous writer who weaves spells with words that draw the reader in like a crackling hearth...Sensory descriptions are executed with exciting precision...Roberts is a writer at the top of her game -- Violet Hudson * Daily Telegraph * Roberts piles on the sensuous detail...also conjures the edgy reality of city life...imagines lives lost to history -- Suzi Feay * Guardian * The novel is a nod to the city's wandering writers, Dickens and Woolf foremost among them...The language is lush and humid as a hothouse, unabashedly sensual...This is above all else a London novel - Covent Garden, Smithfields, Highgate Cemetery, Stew Lane and Waterloo Bridge all pulse with as much life as the characters who walk them...We are left no doubt that the joy of the city is its dense human history -- Francesca Segal * Financial Times * A haunting tale of desire and the exploitation of women in Victorian London * Grazia * Expansive yet intimate... There's no sentimentality to be found here, one of her novel's greatest strengths ...The love that Roberts has for her city becomes almost palpable as her heroine traces it by night, by day... it's also a reminder of the humanity of the city, and the warm, and sometimes dangerous, messiness humanity creates. Roberts makes the task of dipping one's toes back in the past look easy; this is polished writing -- Lesley McDowell * Herald * The narrative structure echoes other novels that shuttle between Victorian and modern settings, such as A.S. Byatt's Possession, while the choppy intimacy of Roberts's style reaches back to modernists such as Joyce...Roberts's setting starts to feel less like a slice of London than a container of her imagination; a house of fiction that is pulsing with ideas and brimming with life -- Robert Douglas-Fairhurst * The Times * A treat for the senses, as vivid in its re-creation of London's past as in its evocation of the contemporary metropolis... What Roberts captures brilliantly is the bright colours and shapes of Southwark...This is not a novel to speed-read; pleasure builds from the accumulation of detail -- Fiona Stafford * Literary Review * The author peels away the layers of place to reveal the past pulsing within ... As well as London's pathways and water ways, Roberts explores the human heart and, in lyrical language, locates beauty in unexpected places * Observer * `Roberts interrogates past and present through vivid detail, from the velvet-slippered rooms of the Victorian pleasure houses to the slick city bars in the modern metropolis' * Woman's Way * richly atmospheric and poetic ... Full of rich colour and supple evocation, this is a provocative novel whose strong flavours linger * Country Life *

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