DOLLY VARDON is the story of a pretty orphan girl's struggle to survive in turn-of-the-century London and Paris; dancing in the streets for pennies, begging, stealing, and the dark side of Victorian England - one of the most horrendous eras of prostitution in the modern world. A chance encounter brings Dolly - the poorest of the poor - together with Harry Sidney Nichols, wealthy publisher and dealer of the rarest books, and publisher of books of every variety of sexual diversion and perversion at a time when printing and selling clandestine erotica was highly illegal. Bound together by Harry's fetish for the tiny foot and shoe, Dolly is introduced to a world of luxury and debauchery she never imagined. But there is a price, and it haunts Dolly Vardon all her life, through three generations of a dysfunctional family saga.
DOLLY VARDON is based on the many tales that Dolly told to her daughters, her lovers, and to the author, one of her many grandchildren.
Paperback, 448 pages
Published June 14th 2013 by Createspace
* I won this book in a goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.*
I don't even know where to begin with this book. So much happens throughout Dolly's life that it almost unimaginable. Most of it is not good and the majority of it is disgusting and extremely disturbing.
The book itself is well written and detailed with many short chapters. I must warn readers though that it deals with the perversions of that time in great detail and the entire book is centred around it. Anyone uncomfortable reading about sexuality, detailed sexual encounters or molestation should stay far away from this book.
Dolly's story is told from the time of her birth until her death and details the unfortunate circumstances that made up her life. From poverty as a young girl, to her time with Harry, her lover, and later her husband we get to know her story from beginning to end.
I felt sorry for Dolly during her early years in London and Paris and found myself routing for her in the hopes that her situation would improve. She endured so much at such a young age that nobody should ever endure. I found myself not liking her as much at about the time that she decided to follow Harry to America. She seemed to have forgotten where she came from and turned selfish, conceited and cared only for class and money and looked down on the less fortunate. Perhaps this was because of her impoverished beginnings or the terrible things she went through but it was still unbecoming. I thought perhaps that her life would improve once she was in America and became a mother but it didn't. Her years in America I found hard to swallow. It went from disturbing to down right disgusting as far as I was concerned. I found myself hating pretty much everyone in the book including Dolly. After everything she went through I found it hard to fathom the way she dealt with the situation with her own daughter. I understand that times were different and I guess I should be thankful that I didn't live in that time because if it were me I would be locked up for murder. I just could not stomach her reaction to that situation.
I am glad that I read the book because I am always interested in stories of different times but it was not an easy read as far as content is concerned. Having said that, I am not going to lie, it is a very depressing and disturbing book.
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