Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Quick Review: Trades of the Flesh by Faye L. Booth

From the Back Cover:

Lydia Ketch is a young woman whose life some would call immoral and shameful. But with the death of her mother and the prospect of the obscene conditions of the workhouse looming before her, Lydia chooses to enter into the “trade” in order to shield herself and her sweet younger sister from life’s ravages and give them a chance at something better. Her education, working in the 'introduction house' of Kathleen Tanner, has given her some very unusual skills and an income few others could match.

When Lydia meets Henry Shadwell, a young surgeon with a passionate interest in biology—and in Lydia's shadowy world—the chemistry between the two is instant. Their relationship deepens when Henry discovers that Lydia possesses a nimble intellect. He soon enlists Lydia's help in his underground sidelines, first as a model for pornographic photography: then as an assistant in procuring corpses for medical experimentation.

With the dangers of her own line of work becoming clearer by the day, and her newfound delight in her own sexuality burgeoning, Lydia becomes disillusioned with her life as a prostitute. It soon become evident that her trade--and Henry's--are even more dangerous than either had imagined.

My Thoughts:

A quick and attention-grabbing read, but in the end it left me wanting more. The marketing copy is a bit misleading. I got the impression that there was going to be a darker, murderous, mysterious element, but there wasn't. Jack the Ripper is stalking London prostitutes, but he doesn't figure into the story at all, and indeed there didn't seem to be much danger other than that which nineteenth-century prostitutes already faced. But I did find it an interesting glimpse into the seedy side of London and the people who lived there, and the beginnings of the nudie magazine trade. I really liked Lydia, and I really felt for her, but I agree with some other reviewers that it seemed like Lydia accomplished her ultimate goals a little too easily. Though I suppose she did pay a price for it. I liked Henry, too, but he disappointed me. I think the author did her research well, and I thought the period detail was rich and enlightening. I think it's actually technically very well-written, but I just finished it feeling like I wanted it to be more: to have had a little more plot, a little more meaning, a little more resonance. Different, though, if you're interested in another take on Victorian London.

My Rating:  3 Stars out of 5

*Please note: This review references a copy received from the publisher. These are my honest and unbiased thoughts, and I was not compensated in any other way for reviewing this book.


  1. Great honest review! Does seem like an interesting read and I might check this one out and give it a try..:)

  2. It started to sound cutting edge but from your description it isn't something I would care for.
    Thanks for the review.


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