My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time by Liz Jensen
It's 1897. It's Copenhagen. Charlotte and her uncouth companion Fru Schlewsig find themselves in the employ of a Fru Krak, a vulgar woman with more money than sense who is about to marry for the second time though the fate of her first husband is still not entirely confirmed. Whilst cleaning their mistress's vast, neglected mansion, they come across various tools and trinkets hidden away in the most bizarre places, and suggesting things in the house are not always as they seem. On venturing down to the cellars, enticed by a mysterious note whose author is unknown, Charlotte stumbles across a bizarre contraption that she soon learns will change her life forever, for this is none other than a time machine, the work of a previous resident of the house. Charlotte and her elderly friend soon find themselves hurtling through time, and across continents, ending up in present day London.
|My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time by Liz Jensen|
|Category: Literary Fiction|
|Reviewer: Zoe Morris|
|Summary: Rudely ripped from their home in 19th century Denmark and whisked off to the London of today, a bright young thing and her rather hapless companion find themselves having to cope with a strange new world they could never have imagined.|
|Buy? No||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 320||Date: June 2007|
|Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC|
That's basically it. The main part of the book is a fish out of water story, devoted to exploring the weird and wonderful things Charlotte and Fru Schlewsig come across during their stay in a world that is so far removed from the one they once knew that it may as well be a different planet entirely. As they adapt to their new surroundings, we see how certain traits and behaviours easily traverse the barriers of time whilst others sincerely don't.
The "dirty" in the title was something I must confess to being a little disappointed by. Charlotte is a jack of quite a few trades, and as well as housekeeping also peddles her body to the bizarre mix of men she comes across in both of her destinations. However she is only a part-time prostitute, and is inclined to give even this up for love, resulting in a story that is at times intriguing and at times romantic, but is never really "dirty".
On the whole, I found this book odd and hard to get in to, though it did pick up after a few chapters. I didn't like the twee language, the faux-Victorian voice of Charlotte, and the dubious character names that just didn't click with my brain, making it hard to remember who was who. I did like seeing the modern world through the eyes of someone visiting it for the first time, but unfortunately these neat and often witty observations were few and far between.
But I really just couldn't get over the wordiness of it all:
The artist had captured his likeness particularly the sheen of his face which I now saw to be not an effect of oil-paint so much as good old fashioned sweat, that dampened the man's forehead & reflected the overhead light in a streak of green luminescence which shone like a wound, as though an enraged Thor had split his head apart with a mighty hammer.
I think it's probably pretty clear that I didn't really like the book, finding it too literary for my young, chick-lit accustomed taste, but that doesn't mean a more refined palate might not take some delight in the adventures of the transplanted pair. Certainly other reviews I have seen seem to think this is a gem of a book, although the tale they describe does not always match up with what I remember from what I have just read. I think we can still recommend this book, but perhaps look for it in a library in the first instance.
Thank you to the publishers for supplying this book.
For another time-travel read, you might like Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife which also focuses more on romance and less on the science fiction side of things.
You can read more book reviews or buy My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time by Liz Jensen at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time by Liz Jensen at Amazon.com.
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