Janet Ellis has written a startling and original historical novel inThe Butcher’s Hook. The smart, astute and fascinating heroine and mesmerising narrative belie the fact that this is a debut. Anne Jacob is a middle-class girl in the middle of the 18thcentury, hungry for books and for knowledge, but a betrayal at the hands of her tutor leads her to explore other avenues of learning and realise the limits of her world. Following the loss of her beloved baby brother, Anne detaches herself from emotion until she meets Fub, the butcher’s boy, and in him she finally finds purpose and passion.
Determined to make a life for herself separate from her parents and the plans they have made for her, Anne will go to any lengths to maintain her newfound happiness, no matter how dark the path she must tread. The book highlights the restrictive limits set on women in the Georgian era and the psychological damage such restriction could lead to, and it is also an immersive portrait of London: its sights, smells, tastes and sounds. While Anne is at the centre of the narrative, we also see her mother, worn out by countless pregnancies and grief; the maids Jane and Grace, limited by their position but ever watchful; and the men who control the women around them with a word, a smile or a frown. The book is also a wonderful portrait of the intensity of first love and the madness of that intensity. Highly recommended. Published by Two Roads Books.
This review can also be viewed at the the HNS website Here