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Review: Grace Hammer, by Sara Stockbridge


It is 1888, and Grace Hammer is a thief, living in London’s Whitechapel. The area is a hotbed for squalor and criminal activity, and is populated with all kinds of unseemly characters (including a serial murder called Jack the Ripper). Grace lives here with her four children, making a decent (but not honest) living picking pockets. In the countryside, a man named Horatio Blunt sits, waiting for the perfect moment to enact his revenge on the woman who stole something valuable from him many years previously.

I loved the premise of the novel, and I enjoyed the setting. Victorian England is one of the time periods I enjoy reading about, in fiction and nonfiction, and I was looking forward to settling down with a good, creepy read. Grace is a plucky heroine, smart and resourceful, and the plot is, indeed, creepy indeed at times. But the plot also has some major holes in it. For example, if Grace knew she was wanted for theft, then why didn’t she take an assumed name when she moved to London? For someone who was apparently such a great thief, she didn’t cover her tracks very well. Why did Horatio Blunt wait seventeen years to get revenge on Grace? And the ending was anticlimactic, with everything neatly wrapped and tied with a bow. The writing style is a little uneven, too. The first twenty pages or so are written in the present tense, but then the rest of the book is written in past tense. It’s almost as though the author changed her mind partway in.

But really, I thought that the characters were the best part of this novel. Grace is, as I’ve said, a plucky woman, one that the reader really roots for as she tries to beat Horatio Blunt at his own game. Some of her other characters truly gave me the creeps while reading this book. I just wish the plot lived up to the promise.

Comments

Thanks for the review. I missed a chance at this ARC on LT so I've been watching to see how it was reviewed. I'm not sure if I'll give it a shot now or not. I hate it when a promising plot line falls apart!
Kristen M. said…
I decided not to put in for the ARC of this because I just had a feeling that it wasn't going to be everything it could be. Sounds like my instincts were right. I will still read it but with realistic expectations.
Gwendolyn B. said…
I'm reading this book now and already beginning to wonder where it is going and thinking I am in for a let down. It's just not exciting me.

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2015 Reading

January
1. The Vanishing Witch, by Karen Maitland
2. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
3. Texts From Jane Eyre, by Mallory Ortberg
4. Brighton Rock, by Graham Green
5. Brat Farrar, by Josephine Tey
6. Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
7. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
8. A Movable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
9. A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf
10. Other Voices, Other Rooms, by Truman Capote
11. Maggie-Now, by Betty Smith

February
1. Middlemarch, by George Eliot
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate, by Cynthia Lee
4. Music For Chameleons, by Truman Capote
5. Peyton Place, by Grace Metalious
6. Unrequited, by Lisa Phillips
7. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
8. A Lost Lady, by Willa Cather

March
1. Persuasion, by Jane Austen
2. Love With a Chance of Drowning, by Torre DeRoche
3. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4. Miss Buncle's Book, by DE Stevenson
5. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garc…