The Double Life of Cora Parry by Angela McAllister
|The Double Life of Cora Parry by Angela McAllister|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Ruth Ng|
|Summary: Exciting story and very evocative of the period.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 144||Date: February 2011|
|Publisher: Orion Children's Books|
When the mean, controlling woman who Cora has been living with dies, Cora thinks she is finally free to live as she chooses. However, fate is against her and she ends up abandoned, alone, on the streets of Victorian London. Desperate not to go back to the workhouse where her mother died she finds herself drawn into the world of Fletch, a street kid who teaches Cora how to survive by thieving and confidence tricks. Although this goes against Cora's conscience she has to find a way to survive, and as a coping strategy she imagines another persona for herself, Carrie, who carries out all the illegal activities leaving Cora free from guilt.
Cora is an appealing character. I felt like I was on her side straight away, hoping that things would go well. I was a little surprised that she was fourteen years old - she seemed much younger to me, and the story felt like one that would appeal to those around 9-13 years old. I liked her though, and found her spiralling descent into thievery and deception very interesting, and exciting, to read. The characters are all interesting and well drawn, even those with just small side parts, and there's a little bit of a feel of Dickens in some of the seedier folk Cora meets around London. Fletch in particular is intriguing, and I would've liked to know a lot more about the history behind Fletch's little conclave of misfits. The squalor of the period, and hardships Cora faces, were very well depicted and it's a lovely, atmospheric tale.
The book is written so well that it would have been an almost instant five star review for me, except I found I was disappointed by the ending. There are hints that something paranormal is taking place, yet we get no real explanation of what has happened or what is going on. Without spoiling things too much, it seems at first that Carrie is a construction of Cora, an alternate persona for her, created to soothe her conscience. However towards the end of the story it seems that Carrie actually existed. Or was she a ghost? Or did Cora just imagine her and it was coincidence somehow? I felt this whole issue was left unresolved, and that the author had been unwilling to swing one way or another on the paranormal/magical aspect. Personally I felt it would be a more interesting story for Cora to have created her as an alter-ego for herself, but then that would have left Cora in an awkward position at the end of the story. The mysterious appearance of 'Carrie' towards the end allows Cora to go free from prison, yet left me feeling things weren't properly explained.
However, I read the book quickly, finding it very hard to put down, and the pacey plot kept the action running throughout. Even with my concerns over the ending this is a great, stylish story and I'd definitely recommend it!
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
Further reading suggestion: For more historical adventures you might like to tryMistress of the Storm by Melanie Welsh and The Queen Must Die (Chronicles of the Tempus) by K A S Quinn.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Double Life of Cora Parry by Angela McAllister at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Double Life of Cora Parry by Angela McAllister at Amazon.com.
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