Saturday, October 19, 2013

Book Review: My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time, by Liz Jensen

It's 1897 and lady-of-the-night/morning/afternoon Charlotte comes up with a brilliant idea to enable her to afford enough fine dresses, food, and schnapps to get through the cold winter. She and Fru Schleswig, a woman who followed her to Copenhagen from the orphanage she grew up in, claiming to be her mother, will clean the home of Fru Krak, a local widow with delusions of aristocracy. Fru Frak, soon to be married to a pastor, is fond of daytime shopping trips; with her out of the house, Charlotte will steal and sell as many of the Kraks' valuable ornaments and household goods as she can.

But after Charlotte hears some intriguing stories about the missing and presumed dead Professor Krak, she can't keep herself from investigating the mysterious locked basement. What she finds there is a device that saves her life and transports her, rather roughly, across time to modern day London, where her adventures continue in a way she could never have imagined.

I had a lot of fun reading My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time, and it was a great choice to take on holiday. I loved the premise, along with Charlotte's personality (though not her penchant for ampersands) and shameless money making-schemes. She is a very funny narrator, vain but charming, bold and cunning. But as the story progresses, she becomes less active and more of an observer, and although I still enjoyed it, I felt that some of the magic was lost as the tale progressed.

I think it was largely the fault of the love story, which seemed very rushed. Charlotte meets her lover, and in the space of a few pages, they are in a serious relationship. It seemed like the author wanted to focus more on the time travel, which would have been fine except that Charlotte has little interest in either the mechanics or in actually travelling all over time and the world. After some initial excitement, she doesn't even seem that thrilled by modern-day London, and she doesn't spend much time exploring it, which was a shame because I really wanted to see what she thought about my home. There are other characters that do more in the way of time travel, but we only find out what they got up to through Charlotte.

I would still recommend it to people looking for an amusing, easy read. It's an entertaining, silly adventure, with a few mysteries along the way.

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