A DISORDERLY GIRL by Bruce Stewart


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Three women from the same family but in different eras: a disarmingly peppery trio of adventurous decades. The first ""disorderly girl"" is pretty Alice Venning, who's convicted (wrongly?) of pinching a mantle from a passing off in the 1800 London streets and sent by dreaded ""transport"" to a convict colony in Australia (leaving behind her dull husband, a poor cooper's apprentice who'll later be hung for Bentham-ist leanings). On shipboard poor Alice barely escapes prostitution, is framed by a madam, is flogged, and is somehow inspired to freedom and survival: in Australia Alice will become a shop owner, settle old scores, dismiss a limp suitor, and marry watchmaker Colby. Part II: Alice's granddaughter Eliza Jane Colby (her decade is 1890-1900) falls hopelessly in love with the Reverend Henry Stannage, who turns out to be a gambler and accomplice to a slaver; to save a boatful of chained natives, Eliza Jane will shoot and kill Henry, be tried, and freed. Part III: Eliza Jane's granddaughter Clare Stannage (the transitional fathers perish like drones) follows the family tradition of activism; for her beloved Gottfried Weber, an anti-Nazi she nursed in Spain's civil war, Clare hangs on life-threatening precipices, spies for the underground, and survives Gottfried's horrible death, declaring: ""Disorderly girls. . . go down to their graves spitting in the world's eye . . . they won't be bloody victims."" With some believable historical cameos (Jeremy Bentham, theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer)--brisk, sturdy adventure with some rakish twists.

Pub Date: March 6th, 1981
Publisher: St. Martin's