A former model’s faux-Dickensian debut.
The story, set amid the filth and color of 19th-century London, concerns Grace Hammer, a young mother and veteran thief. Stockbridge was a model in the 1980s for designer Vivienne Westwood, and there is an echo of Westwood’s playful, punk-Victorian style here. Unfortunately, the author has a tendency to employ muddled or unilluminating metaphors, as in the following passage: “The wide Thames is England’s jugular, busy like the heart. It brings in everything you could eat, drink, smoke, or wear, buy or sell from the far corners of the globe.” First, the jugular is a vein, not an artery. If the Thames is England’s jugular, it is carrying goods away, not to, and comparing the river to both a blood vessel and the heart itself only confuses the matter. Stockbridge is to be commended for trying to write something a little more daring than, say, a barely fictionalized account of her experiences as a model, but the book fails to impress.
An inspiring muse does not an excellent artist make.