TITLE : The Strange Adventures Of H
AUTHOR : Sarah Burton
GENRE : Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction
FR RATING : ⭐⭐⭐⭐(4 – 4.5 Stars)
DATE OF PUBLISHING : May 1st 2020
DISCLAIMER : Thank you, Netgalley and Legends Press for providing me with an ARC of this book. I am leaving this review voluntarily.
The Strange Adventures Of H is a fascinating memoir-style coming-of-age story of a young girl by the name H. This story is set during the Great Plague of London. It also covers The Great Fire of London and The Shrove Tuesday Riots that happened in London. H tells the readers her life story by taking us through a series of unfortunate events that leads her to make difficult decisions and having to fend for herself in the 17th century London that wasn’t kind to young women who didn’t have a man’s protection. This is such an honest and raw account of her life experiences that make her the person she is today.
H and her sister Evelyn is left to the mercy of her sister’s upon her father’s unfortunate and sudden death. They are taken in by their Aunt Madge and under her care, the girls start to become more independent and skilled. Then she gets raped by someone in her family and has to deal with the aftermath of the event without any guidance. The guilt, self-hate, and emotional scarring she experienced doesn’t help and furthermore exacerbates the spiraling of her situation. With the plague hitting London and situations worsening she is again left to take care of not just herself but people entrusted into her care as well. Despite her naivety and young age, she shows a lot of emotional maturity in working through her problems. She is savvy and quite resourceful in making the circumstances work for her benefit.
Financial stability and the drive to stay alive pushes her to make the most of her living situations. H has to make difficult life choices that go against everything she learned. Even though she works honestly and tries to get back on her two feet, life throws her curveballs after curveballs. Every misfortune to hit her makes her stronger and she moves forward ever determined to not let life knock her down.
There were so many characters that I loved and enjoyed reading about. H is an interesting character to read about. She is flawed but owns who she is. Her single-mindedness and drive were fascinating to read about. The supporting characters contributed to shaping the novel and bringing together the story. H taking on different names and roles and playing them to overcome the difficulties and challenges she faced in her life helps us see the mental and emotional state of her mind. It was also very clever of the writer to invent the personality shifts she goes through in her life. Life of women during the olden times and the different paths H and her sisters take explores the social condition and status of women and their freedom. There are questions of morality and ethics also explored in this book. The double standards and hypocrisy of the church, religious figures, and men in power and how they view women are examined in this book brilliantly through the different storylines. I believe this book provides a wonderful exploration of humanity, greed, revenge, ethics, and morality. It also tells a story of a women’s journey from rags-to-riches through determination and single-mindedness.
The pacing is slower and is meant to be savored rather than being consumed in one go. The writing style will be a bit strange at first, but as you continue on you will get the hang of it. The writing is atmospheric and descriptive bringing to life London in all its gritty and dark glory in the reader’s imagination. I could see everything the author was describing and feel everything H experienced as if I was right there with her. The grittiness and the dark and dreary London during the plague were easy to envision and the portrayal felt very real.
The mystery of H’s name, tension, and drama at every stage of her life adds to the story and makes it an excellent read. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I am so happy to have read this book. I gave it 4- 4.5 stars and highly recommend it to all historical fiction lovers out there. This is a fantastic and an excellent story of a young woman’s triumph in life despite the misfortunes that happened to her.
Orphaned young, H is sent to live with her doting aunt in London. H’s life is a happy one until her lecherous cousin robs her of her innocence, and the plague takes away the city and the people she loves. H is cast out—friendless, pregnant and destitute—into the rapidly emptying streets of London under quarantine.
Forced to fend for herself, she is determined to gain back the life she lost. H will face a villain out for revenge, find love in the most unexpected places, and overcome a betrayal that she never could have foreseen. Weathering it all, can H charm, or scheme, her way to the life of freedom and independence that she longs for?