What a Gothic Tale

Nettie's Secret Book Cover Nettie's Secret
Dilly Court
Romance , Women's Fiction
HarperCollins UK, HarperFiction
Pub Date 16 May 2019

The new novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author.

As the wind whipped around her, dragging strands of hair from beneath her bonnet and tugging at her skirt, Nettie left behind the only home she’d ever known…

London, 1875. Taking one last look around her little room in Covent Garden, Nettie Carroll couldn’t believe she wouldn’t even be able to say goodbye to her friends. Her father had trusted the wrong man, and now they would have to go on the run. Once again.

Well I think Nettie wrote her own Gothic novel in this story with its ups and downs and the frequent villains and flitting from police and and and…

I really enjoyed this book after a slow start. Do persevere as it gets better. The fake paintings are very current as there was an article in the Guardian newspaper on Saturday 15th June claiming that a museum dedicated to the work of Étienne Terrus (a friend of Matisse but lesser known) has now discovered that most of the paintings (60%) are fakes..

It seems that top artist fakes are now too easily found so people are copying the work of lesser known artists. But when this novel is set, fakes of well known artists were much rarer. Amusingly earlier this year it was discovered that what was thought to be a fake Botticelli was actually real!

So Nettie lives in dire poverty in reality with almost no protein and in the slums of London with a father who is profligate yet without earning much at all.

To find out a little more about Victorian life, wages and cost of living I did a little exploring. I found the following quote from Dickens:

There are several grades of lawyers’ clerks. There is the articled clerk, who has paid a premium, and is an attorney in perspective, who runs a tailor’s bill, receives invitations to parties, knows a family in Gower Street, and another in Tavistock Square; who goes out of town every long vacation to see his father, who keeps live horses innumerable; and who is, in short, the very aristocrat of clerks. There is the salaried clerk—out of door, or in door, as the case may be—who devotes the major part of his thirty shillings a week to his Personal pleasure and adornments, repairs half-price to the Adelphi Theatre at least three times a week, dissipates majestically at the cider cellars afterwards, and is a dirty caricature of the fashion which expired six months ago. There is the middle-aged copying clerk, with a large family, who is always shabby, and often drunk. And there are the office lads in their first surtouts, who feel a befitting contempt for boys at day-schools, club as they go home at night, for saveloys and porter, and think there’s nothing like ‘life.’ Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers,1836

For interest I found the following statistics:

For the average coffee-stall keeper, general labourer or female copy clerk in the City the wages/salary was – £1 per week:

And Clerks in general were paid as follows:

The cost of accommodation – bearing in mind that in this era nearly everyone rented was:

If you worked at sewing as Nettie did then you could be expected to be paid as follows:

So you can see that it was very difficult to make ends meet unless you were middle class earners.

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