Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Journal of Dora Damage - Belinda Starling

The Journal of Dora Damage
Author: Belinda Starling
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

With unscrupulous money lenders baying at the doors and her husband crippled with arthritis, Dora Damage does the unthinkable in 1860s England; she takes over her husband’s book binding business.

Her delicate and attractive designs soon catch the attention of the dashing Sir Jocelyn Knightley who charges Dora with the task of binding his personal books. But what starts out innocently quickly turns to indecent when the books change from medical texts to pornography, shocking the demure Dora who cannot fathom the apparent enjoyment exhibited by the women and men depicted.

That is until she meets Din. He is a handsome Black slave freed from America who begins working in Damages Bookbinders - now flourishing thanks to the lucrative nature of dealing with such insalubrious materials. Dora is drawn towards this dark stranger and discovers a well of lust hidden deep within herself bursting to be released.

This is a gripping book full of intrigue and drama, and of course Victorian porn. The characters and descriptions of London are full and richly detailed – you can almost smell the stench of waste on the streets and hear the rustle of layers of skirts swishing as the women hurry by. And there is action a-plenty for our heroine Dora who is feisty and strong, a woman determined to save her family from despair as they lurch from one calamity to another.

Sadly this dazzling debut novel will be the only book published by Belinda Starling; she died last year - three weeks after securing a publishing deal. She was 34.

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