First Editions Julie Myerson Laura Blundy

ISBN 13: 9781573221689

Laura Blundy

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9781573221689: Laura Blundy

It begins with a shocking act of violence. On a humid, thundery afternoon, Laura Blundy murders the man who saved her life. He is her husband, but she has a lover.

Fifteen years her junior, already the father of five, Billy is a laborer-one of thousands of faceless men installing the sewers in the city. He is the only passion Laura has ever known, and so she pursues her obsessive dream of their life together to its dire extremes.

In Laura Blundy, Julie Myerson has conjured a nineteenth-century London that is tender, murky, and unsettling. As Laura's story unravels in a dizzying, elliptical narrative, the reader falls helpless prey to the seduction of this bracingly original character. A tale of the unspeakable and tragic exigencies of loss and need, Laura Blundy is an eerily unforgettable love story.

"Myerson knows precisely what she wants to do, and it makes your hair stand up on end."-Mail On Sunday (London)

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Review:

On a sultry afternoon in Victorian London, the eponymous narrator of Laura Blundy beats her husband to death. "In the end I use my crutches as well," she recounts. "I don't stop till he's down and twitching, till he's stopped shouting and screaming, till he's down." Then, scarcely able to believe her crime, Julie Myerson's heroine flees to her lover, Billy. As this star-crossed pair contemplates the future, Laura pieces together her past, which is a rough business indeed. Destitute on London's mean streets at age 14, she served time in jail and suffered a crippling accident. At this point she was taken up by a young surgeon, Ewan Lockhart, but this putative savior quickly became her tyrannical husband--and, eventually, murder victim. Only Billy, a poor ditch-digger and married man, seems to offer Laura the love and respect she craves. As her tale unfolds, though, they discover that it was not chance alone that brought them together.

Myerson has crafted a haunting love story that's rich in period detail. Like Patrick Suskind's Perfume, the text pulsates with the sights, sounds, and (last but not least) reeking odors of the city:

You are well acquainted with how the moisture clings to your face and hair regardless of the season, how the buildings lean so close in together that they coax the alley below into permanent shadow. How in winter there is flooding and in summer there is the big stink and then of course the cholera that floats into your chest, borne on the wind from all that filthy air.
The author also paints a vivid, almost visceral portrait of motherhood and loss. At times, the sheer profusion of Dickensian detail can cloud the reader's enjoyment of the story. And we can wade through only so much relentless suffering before longing for a little humor, something that Myerson, unlike Dickens, has failed to factor into her account. Still, Laura Blundy remains an intelligent and deeply moving book, even if it takes nerves of steel to reach its rewarding conclusion. --Matthew Baylis

About the Author:

Julie Myerson lives in London.

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