There are some really awesome book bloggers out there, did you know that? Jen at The Relentless Reader was tweeting about cleaning out her bookshelves a while back and offered up her ARC of Astray by Emma Donoghue. How nice is that?! (The answer is SUPER NICE.) So anyway, I was like “Oh please pick me!” And she was like, “I don’t even think you’re a little bit crazy, I’m going to send you a book!” It was beautiful.
The last time I read Emma Donoghue, she was scaring the crap out of me in Room. Astray was a collection of short stories. They were all historical fiction (my fave!) and based on REAL EVENTS. It was DELICIOUS. Elephants, gold miners, lesbian sculptors- there’s really something for everyone in this book!
My personal favorite was a the tale of the Victorian prostitute. She tried to keep her profession a secret from her younger brother, but being a hooker is tough to keep to yourself, even if you’re the very portrait of discretion. Unbeknownst to her, her little brother was in the know and managed to make a deal with a well established gentleman to help them out. The afterward told us who the well established gentleman was- Charles FREAKING Dickens! In celebration of this story, I thought we should listen to this highly appropriate tune from The Decemberists. It’s “A Cautionary Song.”
I know this is going to sound ridiculous, but I love a good prostitution story. Let’s face it, nobody goes into the “world’s oldest profession” without an interesting set of circumstances leading them there. Plus, I think these stories help give a voice to the type of people who usually get brushed under the rug by history. Soooo… Here’s a list of historical fiction books about ladies of the night!
1. Slammerkin by Emma Donoghue. Apparently Donoghue likes her trollops. I haven’t read it yet, but everyone says it’s amazing, so obviously it’s on my short list.
2. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. Elite Japanese prostitutes!
3. Peach Blossom Pavilion by Mingmei Yip. It’s about a Chinese house of ill repute. With the best reputation. (I steal lines from Shakespeare in Love like a boss.)
4. In The Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant. Renaissance Italian paramours!
5. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. Why haven’t you read this yet? In the book, Fantine sells her two front teeth in an effort to avoid her fall from grace. Obviously they couldn’t do that in the musical or Fantine would have to lisp through her big song… But yeah. French whores, represent!
So, Bookworms, do you enjoy collections of short stories? How about books about prostitution? Or perhaps a song that matches a book PERFECTLY? Talk to me!