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Not available. This item has been added to your basket View basket Checkout. Added to basket. Bring up the Bodies. Hilary Mantel. Oct 02, Julia Simpson-Urrutia rated it it was amazing Shelves: highbrow-gothic. I love Victorian period dramas. Published in by Penguin, this is the debut novel of a young woman who teaches writing in England as I do in California, but that is not why I fell in love with her book. The Whores' Asylum is aptly titled, with a pretty cover, and in fact has a cou I love Victorian period dramas. The Whores' Asylum is aptly titled, with a pretty cover, and in fact has a couple of engaging, colorful whores in it, yet it does not fit genre expectations.

It is an intelligent study of the human heart rather than the narrative of a clever whore who raises herself up and escapes from misery in Victorian England. By no means am I trivializing the referred-to miniseries; I only mean The Whores' Asylum is a labyrinthine sanctuary where the reader must get lost to find meaning.


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It's a delightful book to get lost in. Darby gives the amiable narrator's voice to one Dr. Edward Fraser whose affinities and friendships set the entire tone of the novel. At the outset, young Fraser has not determined whether to follow his proclivities for righteousness or his fascination for the classical past.


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  • It is significant that he has already achieved a Bachelor of Arts in Theology from Cambridge with first class honors and is now pursuing a Master's in Philosophy at Oxford. Fraser is no simpleton. This character, far more layered than Holmes' Watson and definitely more significant to the plot, tells of his great friendship for Stephen Chapman, a young man studying medicine. Chapman and Fraser are good for each other; they room together in Oxford, sharing their lives, dreams and aspirations with each other. Since the novel is told in hindsight, Fraser wants to explain why Chapman died in such hideous manner, and make amends for his failings, if he can, by so doing.

    One of Darby's delightful ploys is to play a trick on readers who may, for instance, be likely to judge Fraser as a prude. We are, after all, of the 21st century and do not see things as British society did back in Victorian times. There are other judgments the reader may make which I do not feel inclined to give away.

    At the very least, the reader will be likely to find young Fraser too judgmental in his view of the young woman with whom Chapman has fallen in love. Still, there is no doubt that Fraser's friendship is sincere and he tries to do right by Chapman. The reader is free to disagree with Fraser's point of view on any number of topics or plot twists, and that disagreement is, I believe, something Darby engineers with skill.

    The characters in The Whores' Asylum develop as they are supposed to in serious, prize-winning literature. I blushed next to Edward Fraser, hoping he would forgive me for my judgments. Through the metamorphoses, the plot keeps us hooked and the changes are all believable.

    Desperate Reader: The Whores' Asylum - Katy Darby

    I can see why Darby titled this novel The Unpierced' Heart in its first incarnation, for the overall story is about judgments and choices made around, for and about love. The Whores' Asylum is set against a background of rich Gothic trappings and told in a strong, literary Victorian voice. I cannot wait to see what Darby writes next. Feb 13, Sharon Martin rated it it was amazing. Set in the late 's , the storyline is set around three main characters who have different backgrounds, breeding and beliefs.

    The book had me enthralled within the first few pages due to the air of mystery that was created. The characters are vividly described and the attention to detail of the settings, language used and etiquette is superb. The story is based on two scholars, one for the priesthood and one training to become a doctor in pathology. During his training to become a doctor he is Set in the late 's , the storyline is set around three main characters who have different backgrounds, breeding and beliefs. During his training to become a doctor he is given the chance to study on live cases who are working girls and are suffering from venereal diseases.

    This appeals to him very strongly but when he tries to explain this to his friend, who is studying for the priesthood, conflict of interests arise. The priest-to-be is appalled and horrified that the doctor could cure the girls so they could go back to plying their immoral trade. On his research at the Asylum the doctor falls in love with the woman who runs the shelter.

    When his trainer cannot attend a ball he gives the doctor the two tickets and he takes his priest friend. On arriving at the ball he sees his lover in the arms of another man and the priest recognises her from his past life. The author then relates each of the characters stories, the trainee priest, the trainee doctor and the madam.

    As each of the story unfolds, you find yourself drawn further into the book, sensing how each character is feeling and understanding the motives for their beliefs, some of which are still poignant today as we judge people we do not know without really getting to know them. The difference between the classes are a major issue in this book, how the rich live and dominate, the students living in squalor and struggling to survive and finally the working class who have to make ends meet in anyway. When you read this book you will find yourself challenging your thoughts and beliefs.

    As each story gets further down the line, the mysterious air and lives of each of the characters still remains and it is not until right at the end of the story you get the full picture. The period of the storyline is one of my favourites in history and is excellently represented and anyone who enjoys historic novels must read this book. Sep 24, Kitty rated it liked it Shelves: 19th-century , silly-trashy-ness , just-dull , unsatisfactory-ending. This is a good enough read. However, there is not enough plot to really enthrall the reader.

    There was no moment where I gasped and thought "wow, I never thought that would happen" as is usually the case in this brand of pseudo Victorian novels and, indeed, Victorian novels themselves. The book is relatively well written, it wasn't God awful but it just didn't live up to my expectations.

    I thought I would be getting an intriguing, rip-roaring read, in the style of the sensation novels, somethin This is a good enough read. I thought I would be getting an intriguing, rip-roaring read, in the style of the sensation novels, something a little like The Meaning Of Night by Micheal Cox which is a fantastic read that will have you fully engrossed in the wonderful narrative or inspired by such work as Wilkie Collins.

    Instead I got a run of the mill historical drama that thinks it is more shocking than it really is there is a surprising lack of whoreish behavior, considering the title, a title that put me more in mind of the crimson petal and the white, a complete contrast to this comparatively chaste adventure. At the end of the day, there is nothing significantly wrong with this book, it is simply mildly entertaining.

    The sort of book that will divert you for a short while but will leave no lasting impact. If you are wanting a quick read that doesn't involve much effort due in the main to the lack of plot complexity this novel should suffice. Mar 24, Chelsea rated it really liked it Shelves: gothic , historical , adult. Whether that is good or bad I'm not so sure but I really enjoyed this book.

    At the center of the book we have Edwards Fraser, a theology student and his roommate Stephen Chapman who is a brilliant doctor. They are unlikely friends but quickly become close. When Chapman begins his work at a shelter designed to help whores get back on their feet Fraser strongly objects and this signals the inevitable cru "Remember, my dear, for a whore there is no asylum" This was nothing like I had first imagined. When Chapman begins his work at a shelter designed to help whores get back on their feet Fraser strongly objects and this signals the inevitable crumble of their relationship.

    It is not long before Chapman becomes enamored with Mrs Diana Pelham who runs the shelter. One night at a ball Fraser and Diana come face to face and instantly recognised one another because Fraser knew her long ago. Is Diana truly wicked? Does everything she touch turn to ash? Fraser fears so. The cover of this book is gorgeous! I also loved the Victorian layout of the story. It had beautiful illustrations that just helped to bring the story to life. I just raced through this book.

    The Whores’ Asylum – review

    The story was fast-paced and full of pure Gothic goodness. I highly recommend this to any one who enjoys a good Victorian tragedy. Jun 10, Lenora rated it really liked it Shelves: gothic , historical-fiction. This novel appears to have quite a fluctuation of reviews, ranging from boring to uneventful, and this is understandable. Gothic fiction is not for everyone. When it comes to such a fine literary art, I believe Darby stays true to the Gothic genre with this lighthearted and enthralling tale of love, passion, and the darkness of Victorian England. From the eloquent narratives and believable characters to the omniscience of the era, this is the totality of Victorian life in the late 's.

    I was p This novel appears to have quite a fluctuation of reviews, ranging from boring to uneventful, and this is understandable. I was perpetually entertained throughout, leading up to the titillating conclusion. Suburb work! One of those books which sound really good but could have been better. Do enjoy these sorts of novels but I was expecting more action than there was. However there were good characters in Diana and Stephen though in the end it did seem that everyone's future was a bit grim, felt that Darby wasn't going to give anyone a break.

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    Jan 09, Martina Zuliani rated it really liked it. I wouldn't have loved the book as much as I did if not for the author's writing style. The story was not-so-catch to me and the first part of it was pretty boring, just to become too fast starting with the middle part of the book. However, I enjoyed the author's effort to write a novel in the Victorian writing style and think that she was successful in doing so.

    Jan 06, Steven Murray rated it really liked it. A slow burner that is beautifully written. Picks up speed and has a rather poniont if sad ending. A story of the realities of love. Nov 20, Liam Hogan rated it it was amazing. Not normally my sort of thing.

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    And so it at first appears, in the epistolary structure, the vocabulary and sentence form, in the mindset of a prudish theology student. A novel from another century. But there are early clues that Darby's debut novel covers at least a subject matter that would have been considered too racy for those times; the title which is preferred to the tone I thought I knew what to expect when I read Katy Darby's "The Whores' Asylum": a Victorian Gothic novel, well executed. But there are early clues that Darby's debut novel covers at least a subject matter that would have been considered too racy for those times; the title which is preferred to the toned down supermarket alternative of "An Unpierced Heart" , then there's the dedication Katy wrote to me which helpfully tells which page the orgy is on Still, Edward Fraser seems a cold, unpromising narrator, hard to like as he slowly settles into the friendship that drives the action, before flashing back to a previous scandal from which he appears to have learnt little.

    With each switch the promised underbelly of Victorian Oxford is exposed, the stakes raised. If I have an criticism, it is the proximity of the two searches through Jericho, so close in the novel's pages that you would half expect them to come together, and in the what appears an odd choice of Edward to hang it together. But then, as in The Peculiar Case of Jekyll and Hyde, perhaps there are no other characters capable of piecing the whole story together.

    The novel is solidly copy-edited no obvious typos to throw you out of the narrative and in cover and in internal illustrations in the style of a racy broadsheet of the day , a delight to hold. And even I felt a tug of the ol' heartstrings as I read the ephemera. It is sheer pleasure to read every word that comes out of Katy Darby's pen. The command of language keeping true to the style of the regency period is utterly delightful.

    I so enjoy those peculiar turns of phrase as well as the flamboyant vocabulary; a re-introduction to words that we don't see so much of anymore. Expressions that were particular to a certain echelon of society, certain districts, the various Londoners that dot the city - it all comes together to create what is an authentic expe It is sheer pleasure to read every word that comes out of Katy Darby's pen.


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    Expressions that were particular to a certain echelon of society, certain districts, the various Londoners that dot the city - it all comes together to create what is an authentic experience of the time and the place the story is set in. I care for details. And what I can say is that the books does get a little lethargic towards the penultimate chapters, it certainly doesn't leave you wanting for adventure, gothic macabre, and the bloodied mouth of a darkly alive Victorian London.

    Worthy of 4. Darby, a graduate of Oxford herself, paints an atmospheric portrait of Oxford's seedier side, Jericho, a Dickensian stew of shadowy alleys, tenement slums and streetwalkers to rival the more over-used Whitechapel. Darby populates her world with credible characters which demand emotional involvement even as she hurtles them towards the tragic climax that her chosen genre demands. And the grotesques with which she seasons the narrative are just the right side of believable while adding welcome colour and depth to her Jericho.

    Darby pulls off a masterful balancing act with her careful prose. For modern readers, the textual gymnastics of some Victorian writers, especially those leaning towards melodrama, can be tiring on the eyes. Darby manages to retain the flavour of the authors she so obviously admires — Wilkie Collins, Arthur Conan Doyle — but at the same time establishes her own voice and creates a contemporary narrative. It's a rare achievement, and it will be interesting to see whether Darby continues in this "new Victoriana" vein for her next trick, or turns her obviously considerable talent to something new.

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