Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Fair Fight-Anna Freeman

Fair Fight-Anna Freeman
the facts
satisfaction: up
pages: 448
gender: F
nationality: UK
year: 2014
novel
A daughter of a prostitute finds out that she is an excellent boxer and the way she makes her way through the world.
My goodness, what a fiesty book. It starts a little slow but more than rewards persistence. I guess I was primed to enjoy this from the start when we met Ruth. A strong girl who ends up in the men's world of pugilism. Ohhhh. And she's not perfect (far from!) with strengths and weaknesses that fully flesh her out as a figure. Joining Ruth in the cast of characters stuck in the underworld is Ruth's sister who is pushed into prostitution. Then there are the aristocrats-the men in power and Charlotte, the woman under their thumbs. Seriously, the characterization is superb especially the women. You get two women narrators here who are real-not one dimensional or relying on tired tropes (not even Austen is over-evoked). No one is black and white or perfect though every reader will surely have a favorite. The setting is Victorian Bristol with just enough detail to make sure you understand why the world is set up as such.

As much as I adored the (female) characters, Freeman's real coup is the story telling. The pacing is well-suited for this plot which doesn't just tell a historical fiction story but tells a realistically gritty one without dwelling on the dirt. It's about how nothing will help you along but people will continue on nevertheless. Then there are the heavy themes of addiction and dependency. There is a depth here lacking from many other historical fiction novels. 

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