Synopses & Reviews
A rich, outrageous, Dickensian novel in the comic tradition of The Crimson Petal and the White
about a boy raised as a girl in the richest home in 19th century England.
Lord Geoffroy Loveall arrives home one fateful morning with a most unusual package hes found an abandoned baby, whom he adopts and names Rose in honor of his long-dead sister. Roses childhood inside the sprawling maze of towers, lawns, and halls that make up Love Hall is an endless round of privilege and delight. There is only one problem: Roses father wanted a daughter, but he brought home a son. When Rose reaches adolescence, Lord Lovealls delusion becomes apparent to all, and her parents can no longer disguise the secret around which theyve created Roses entire world: this delicate flower is, in fact, a boy. Outraged relatives descend to fight for their inheritance, the idyll collapses, and Rose must journey halfway around the world to find his true self and reclaim his rightful place.
A joy-filled and mischievous reinvention of the English adventure novel, Misfortune brims with unexpected plot twists, outrageous characters, and fanciful details of a world long past. The voice of Rose comes alive with irresistible, ravishing vitality all the more remarkable for being the work of a first-time writer. Misfortune is an astonishingly original and absolutely unforgettable debut.
"This gender-bending romp about a boy raised as a girl in 19th-century England penned by musician John Wesley Harding, writing here under his real name more than lives up to the hype it will surely, ahem, engender. On a night in 1820, effeminate and ineffective (at least according to his mother) Lord Geoffroy Loveall, happens upon a baby abandoned in a trash heap. He brings it home to Love Hall, the grand estate that he is set to inherit, and pronounces the baby his daughter and heir. There's just one problem: the baby is a boy. Geoffroy refuses to accept this fact, but the happy news causes his ailing mother to die on the spot. The baby named Rose is raised as a cosseted and doted-on proper young lady, and the legitimate heir, a ruse that works beautifully until Rose begins to wonder about the facts of life: why, for example, does she suddenly feel the urge to pee standing up, like her friend Stephen, rather than squatting like his lovely sister, Sarah? Adolescence (and a few whiskers) only causes further confusion as does the word 'BOY,' which begins to ominously appear around the estate. Eventually, Rose's cover is blown, and the scandal prompts several sets of greedy relatives to descend, claiming the Loveall inheritance as their own. There's a huge cast of characters, plot twists aplenty, loads of historical detail (including original Victorian ballads) and a satisfying, tied-together ending that also, in two epilogues, manages to offer up a poignant take on historical interpretation. Yet this lengthy and involved tale makes for speedy reading. Best of all, Rose's original narrative voice is engaging from the get-go: smart, funny, observant, and even hip. Agent, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh. (Apr. 11) Forecast: Like
The Crimson Petal and the White and Sarah Waters's Fingersmith, this clever historical potboiler could soar sales-wise, especially with the added Harding hook. 15-city author tour.
" Publishers Weekly
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"Misfortune breaks the postmodern bonds of self-consciously sparse prose and frees the reader to revel like Rose in a bountiful garden of delight: reading so rich and unbridled that the story grabs us. At last, an out-of-the-box, truly original storyteller promises to soar above the literary horizon, all because he wrote the kind of book he liked reading." Skye K. Moody, Seattle Times
"[Rose] is a very entertaining companion....[The novel is] a lot of fun in a Gilbert & Sullivan
way and, yes, you will hear again of a boy, a baby, a ballad and a dog." Detroit Free Press
"[A] ripping transsexual romp...[that] reads like some inspired collaboration between Charles Dickens
and Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar
....This is a fun book." The Washington Post
"As in many cases of cross-dressing, the results are sparkling....Poignant and mordantly funny....Misfortune augurs a most auspicious debut." The Village Voice
This unforgettable debut is a rich, outrageous Dickensian novel in the comic tradition of The Crimson Petal and the White
about a boy raised as a girl in the richest home in 19th-century England.
On a moonlit night on the outskirts of London, Lord Geoffroy Loveall findsthe answer to his prayers: an abandoned baby, somehow still alive amid thejunk of a rubbish heap. Rescuing the infant from certain death, Lord Geoffroy adopts her as his only child, heir to the fabulous Love Hall fortune. He names her Rose in memory of his long-dead sister and gives hera childhood of unparalleled gaiety and unstinting pleasure. But every house has a secret, and as Rose approaches adolescence, the secret of Love Hall becomes impossible to hide. As much as Lord Geoffroy wanted a daughter, the baby he brought home is, in fact, a boy. As a flock
About the Author
Born in Hastings, educated at Cambridge, Wesley Stace is also known as the musician John Wesley Harding. He is currently at work on his second novel and his 14th album. He lives in Brooklyn.