The Journal of Dora Damage: A Novel
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London, 1860: On the brink of destitution, Dora Damage illicitly takes over her ailing husband's bookbinding business, only to find herself lured into binding expensive volumes of pornography commissioned by aristocratic rou�s. Dora's charm and indefatigable spirit carry her through this rude awakening as she contends with violent debt collectors, an epileptic daughter, evil doctors, a rheumatic husband, errant workmen, nosy neighbors, and a constant stream of wealthy dilettantes. When she suddenly finds herself forced to offer an internship to a mysterious, fugitive American slave, Dora realizes she has been pulled into in an illegal trade of sex, money, and deceit.
The Journal of Dora Damage conjures a vision of London when it was the largest city in the world, grappling with the filth produced by a swollen population. Against a backdrop of power and politics, work and idleness, conservatism and abolitionism, Belinda Starling explores the restrictions of gender, class, and race, the ties of family and love, and the price of freedom in this wholly engrossing debut novel.
"Unfortunately, Starling's debut novel will be her last; she died prematurely last year at the age of 34. Although the plot is a bit too crowded and overworked-a common novice mistake-this historical melodrama artfully evokes the contradictions inherent in Victorian society. When Dora Damage is forced by circumstances-an invalid husband and an epileptic daughter-to take over the family bookbinding business, she is inexorably drawn into a London netherworld she barely knew existed. As if binding pornographic books for a circle of aristocratic clients isn't bad enough, she is also compelled to harbor Din Nelson, a fugitive American slave. Unable to suppress her emotional and physical attraction for Din, she gives into desire and her real education begins."- Booklist
- Bloomsbury Publishing, October 2010
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