This new story of a mudlark is by no means as successful as Theodore Bonnet's book and movie success (The Mudlark) some years ago, and follows an English urchin, Peter Smelly by name, through many misadventures and misunderstandings. In a setting of scalawags and scoundrala, he makes his way through Victorian London's Piccadilly, Graves-end and Greenwich, runs afoul of merchants and policemen, meets a good-hearted barmaid, a romantic docker, a bird-catcher, and assorted cutthroats sporting Cockney diminutives -- Old Un Long Tom Nastyface. His path finally crosses that of Lord Palmerston (he is skulking aboard the Prime Minister's yacht) and eventually, after further adventures, is redeemed by his benefactor.... While quite properly based on fact as corroborated in the appendix, there may be some to find the optimism of the title justified; it is a view of Virtue rewarded and Vice disdained, along with a lot of jolly slumming, pleasant treacle and sweet suspense. But there's very little real writing or real characterization- and it is for an undemanding, tender-hearted audience.