This was a book I have been meaning to read for a long time and when I spotted it in a second hand shop for $6, I grabbed it.
It’s an awfully long book, so I’m grateful for the time I spend on the train travelling to and from work which allowed me to read it in about four weeks.
The guts of the story were good, but I think it could have been so much better.
I could have been written a lot better – mainly the thought process, which bugged me to no end because author Jennifer Donnelly used endless questions to express what her characters were thinking, which just seemed a little lazy to me.
The characters annoyed me too. They weren’t very likeable. I could tell Donnelly intended India Selwyn Jones to be this fearless woman who would never let anyone tell her she couldn’t do something just because she was a woman in the 1900s. That would have been great if she had pulled it off, but there were far too many points when she turned into this trembling little kitten who let others control her life, especially men, that it wasn’t believeable.
Being a woman doctor in the 1900s, I would have thought India would never tolerate men ruling her life. But she did. Despite walking away from her parents to become a doctor, she let her father dictate her life with money. Despite hating Freddie Lytton with a passion, she let him blackmail her, take her money, and control her. And despite her falling in love with Sid Malone, she left everything she loved behind to start a life with him. In the end, it had me confused as to what sort of person Donnelly was actually trying to portray in India.
Sid Malone. He was just not believeable. He was made out to be this heartless criminal who ruled the East End underground with every cop and MP in town after him. And, of course, India comes into his life and instantly he wants to change, be a better man, after a lifetime of crime. Sure, he has a sad back story of murdered parents causing him to go off the rails, but I just wasn’t sold.
What would have made it more believeable? Instead of overrunning the story with endless political nonsense, it would have been great if I could have got to know Sid Malone a lot better and seen the love story play out longer and a lot more frustratingly.
A do-gooder woman doctor and London’s most wanted criminal don’t just fall in love in one night walking through the sewers together. I wanted it to be harder, more heart-wrenching, more devastating, almost impossible for them to find love in each other and even more impossible for them to be together. It was far too easy, far too fast. And I just didn’t believe it.
Maybe I’m being too cynical, reading too much into the story, but I wanted more, and it’s a shame because it had the potential to be so much more.