My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Jane Stretch, a young girl with a syndrome that meant she was born with twisted bones, has moved around London following her useless parents as they flit from lodging to lodging, scraping money together for enough gin to keep themselves merry until one day they announce that they are leaving Jane and her sister to move to the country. Soon after, Jane receives a devastating blow from her sister who likewise decides to cut her losses and make her way in the world without her crippled sister holding her back.
Jane cannot believe her fortune then, when the doctor she lodges with offers to allow her to keep her room with them, in return for her assisting him in his work. Grateful for the opportunity they have given her, Jane becomes a loyal aide to Mr Swift and forms an emotional attachment to his wife, Mrs Swift.
Mr Swift’s business is solely to service young actresses who have gotten themselves into trouble in certain boarding houses across London. They all beg for the doctor’s assistance and Jane mops their brows and helps to provide the tincture they need to take to solve their problem without asking any questions until one day when the most popular music hall star of the moment, Johnny Treble, visits Mr Swift and makes a deal with him that causes the police to take notice and begin asking the questions that Jane daren’t…
Considering the subject matter of the book it’s odd that my initial description of the book to anybody asking me would be “sweet” and “lovely”. However, Janette Jenkins has created such a warm, kind character in Jane Stretch I couldn’t help but fall in love with her. Jane has a fierce intelligence which surprises everyone she meets and her loyalty to the people she feels have helped her throughout her life is admirable, if entirely naive and unwarranted in most cases.
The plot of this story is fairly basic, and it was easy to determine what was going to happen- however, the writing is very enjoyable and easy to read which helped to prevent me becoming bored of the story. Additionally, Jenkins has perfectly encapsulated the dark, seedy streets of Victorian London, so anybody who enjoys reading fiction set in this period will not be disappointed.
This review was first published on Nudge-books.com and Goodreads on 19th June 2013.