In fin-de-siecle Copenhagen, part-time prostitute Charlotte and her lumpen sidekick, Fru Schleswig, have taken on jobs as cleaning ladies of dubious talent to tide them over the harsh winter of 1897.
But the home of their neurotic new employer, the widow Krak, soon reveals itself to be riddled with dark secrets - including the existence of a demonic machine rumoured to swallow people alive.
Rudely catapulted into twenty-first-century London, the hapless duo discover a whole new world of glass, labour-saving devices and hectic, impossible romance.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 320 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
- Publication Date: 04/06/2007
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780747585930
Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.
Review by gaskella
No Liz Jensen book is ever like any other by her, or anyone else for that matter. The three I’ve now read were all quirky in different ways, and great fun to read. Dirty Little Book, as I shall call it for short, combines a historical setting in 19thC fin de siècle Copenhagen with Wellsian time travel to London’s new millennium and would be considered steampunk if it wasn’t for the central romance at the heart of the story.Charlotte is a part-time prostitute, but is always on the lookout for better opportunities for herself and her lump of a sidekick Fru Schleswig, (whom everyone seems to think is her mother). She gets them a job cleaning the house of the widow Krak, whose husband has disappeared under mysterious circumstances. The widow is desperate to marry the Pastor, but Professor Krak’s body has not been found, and there are strange goings-on in the basement where Charlotte is not allowed to go. Charlotte ‘gets to know’ the Pastor for leverage, but eventually she decides she has to brave the basement – where she discovers the Professor and his time/wormhole machine and she and her limpet Fru Schleswig are whizzed into twenty-first century London docklands, where she discovers not only a whole host of ex-pat 19thC Danes all happily living new lives, full of wondrous labour-saving gadgets (Fru Schleswig adores vacuum cleaners), but she meets a twenty-first century bloke – Fergus and falls properly in love for the first time. But that’s not the end of her adventure as Fergus and Charlotte end up getting separated in time again and must find their way back together.I really enjoyed this witty and slightly saucy adventure; like the best farces, it moves apace and is full of energy. Charlotte is a very likeable and spunky (!) heroine, Fergus is a dear, and Fru Schleswig is a hilarious lardy creation. Although it has the time-travel and steampunky edge to it, it isn’t science-fiction – it’s a Cinderella story with a difference!
Review by magnuscanis
This was the second Liz Jensen novel that I have read (the first being "The Rapture"), and my impression based on these two plus the cover blurbs I have read for the next two I have lined up ("Egg Dancing" and "War Crimes for the Home") is that she is an author capable of quite a variety of different styles, whose work is very difficult to predict from one book to the next (although I notice that she seems to have a preference for first-person narratives).Having enjoyed my first Jensen novel and hearing that she had written one about time travel, one of my favourite SF themes, I was keen to read this one. It is written in a quite light-hearted style and the narrator has a tendency to speak directly to the reader from time to time, which at first I found a bit distracting but soon came to quite enjoy. The text is marked by an abundant use of the ampersand, which I suspect some people might find irritating but I thought helped to emphasise the fact that Charlotte, the heroine, came from a different place and time (namely late 19th Century Denmark). I also quite enjoyed the Danish expressions that quite liberally peppered the pages, and had fun guessing what they meant.
Review by katiekrug
Fun! This historical time-travel novel is fun and funny and sweet and bawdy, and I loved it. It tells the story of a prostitute in 19th c. Copenhagen who cons her way into a position as a maid at a fine house where there are mysterious goings-on. Turns out, there is a time machine in the basement, and our plucky heroine eventually finds herself in modern day London. All sorts of antics ensue, but what makes this novel work so incredibly well is the voice of Charlotte, the prostitute. Despite the ridiculousness, I really did care for her and what happened to her. Pure entertainment - but smart and funny at the same time.