ST. JOHN'S WOOD by Nancy Fitzgerald
Kirkus Star

ST. JOHN'S WOOD

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

More cheeky and tongue-in-cheek than most of the early-Victorian bustles, boasting a heroine who doesn't want love or marriage or life upon the wicked stage. No, what Thalia wants is to write a novel--to make a few quid and move out from an oppressive stepfather-mother-sister middle-class menage--and the subject she chooses is ""pretty horsebreakers,"" alias ""Cyprians"" or classy courtesans. Dissolute cousin Lynton knows a number of these ladies, so Thalia's soon making their acquaintance, pumping them for the inside dope, scribbling on the sly, and running her innocent ""coz"" Letitia and her dizzy governess Miss Mallet equally ragged. Dazzled by Lady Guenevere Shallot (who's being painted by guest star D. G. Rossetti) and heated up by the advances of libertines who mistake her for one of them, Thalia fancies the demimonde life--until the Marquis of Parringdon shows her the underbelly of London's vice. An utterly improbable Dickensian revelation wraps up the lavishly costumed proceedings, and--except when the spotlessly prurient touches seem forced--Fitzgerald's ride along Rotten Row goes at a gallop, cheered on by impudent Thalia, swains who sweat, and carriages full of Victorians un-Victorian enough to get love and lust all mixed up.

Pub Date: May 13th, 1977
Publisher: Doubleday