THE WHISPERING ROAD by Livi Michael

THE WHISPERING ROAD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In this action-packed historical page-turner, destitute siblings Joe and Annie (a trance medium) escape from an apprenticeship with an abusive farmer and make their way to Manchester, hoping to find their mother. It’s 1830s England, and the kids survive with help from a self-sufficient philosophical tramp, an enigmatic Dog-woman, performers in a traveling fair and a clandestine radical newspaper publisher. Danger and abject poverty lurk in every corner of this sweeping, episodic narrative, under which swirls the author’s keen interest in the history of the urban poor and social reform. She tackles a great deal—deaths of workhouse children, the great cholera epidemic, the repeal of the stamp tax and the complicated class issues endemic to Manchester, an industrial “feudal city” on the verge of change—though often provides only a surface introduction to the complex matters of those times. It is the value of a good story that's at the heart of this adventurous 19th-century tale, and Michael via her intrepid protagonist Joe tells a swell one. (author’s note, glossary) (Historical fiction. 10 )

Pub Date: May 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-399-24357-7
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2006