Review: Crystal

crystalcovervictorianIn this expansive bodice-ripper, Katie Price leads us once again through the streets of Victorian London, where we renew our acquaintanceship with her feisty heroine Lady Orangie, erstwhile custodian of Joredine House –now reduced to penury and forced to rent out her oddly textured amber breasts as common playthings for the amusement of Lord Andre, her evil nemesis from the earlier books in the series.

Lady Orangie may be down but she’s certainly not out and, unbeknownst to wicked Lord Andre, she is secretly working toward the day when she will return once more to her ancestral home. In spite of the unfortunate hand fate has dealt her, Lady Orangie retains her essential purity and goodness and she conceives of a plan whereby she will inaugurate a charitable foundation, dedicated to the establishment of a great asylum at her beloved Jordine House. The proposed asylum will be devoted to the care of London’s wretched ‘Grape-Heads’ — an unfortunate class of cranially-deformed children, born of and abandoned by their gin-sodden mothers, or sold into misery in the notorious ‘Spacker Circuses’, detestable freak shows with which the city is plagued.

In order to achieve this laudable aim and raise the necessary funds, Lady Orangie must first plumb new depths of hardship and humiliation —allowing her innocent young body to be used as little more than a tangerine-coloured spunk bucket by a succession of Lord Andre’s unsavoury friends; association footballers from the Woolwich Arsenal, rank-smelling prize fighters, and music-hall performers of ill-repute —whilst Lord Andre himself produces a series of commemorative daguerreotypes of each acrobatic unpleasantness. However, unbeknownst to the abhorrent Lord, it will be through clandestinely selling these self-same disreputable ‘likenesses’, in the run down gin-palaces of the East End, that Lady Orangie intends to finance her noble dream and her return to polite society.

It is a sign of the power of Ms. Price’s writing that her frank descriptions of these depraved events moved me to tears many times and, on one occasion, caused me to be violently sick into my tobacco pouch. The very notion of the delicate saintly figure of Lady Orangie, still adhesive and unkempt from her undesired exertions, plying these foul images to assorted sailors, soldiers and ruffians of every sordid class, with her sorrowful cry of “Three for a penny. You can see it going in!” is of such pathos that it leaves one in awe of Ms. Price’s mastery of the language.

I long to tell you more about this towering work and to share with you the sheer joy with which one simply wills Lady Orangie onwards as she strives to regain possession of her birth-right, struggles to create a safe and loving sanctuary for the unfortunate Grape-Heads and (most satisfying of all!) conspires to frustrate the knavish plans of Lord Andre. However I am loath to mar your enjoyment of this spell-binding tale by ‘giving too much away’. Suffice it to say that if you only purchase one novel in your entire life-time, this should be the one. I simply can’t speak of it highly enough.

RATING: 5 Stars

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