The Scandalous Life of the Lawless Sisters – Philip Ardagh

Yesterday I mentioned that I was stuck in some kind of book slump /funk and that every book I seem to be picking up to hit the road with or read between each part of ‘The Passage’ is just not quite hitting the reading spot. I am still slightly stuck there it has to be said but one book that has sort of given me a nudge is a book I read yesterday in a hour and really enjoyed, mainly because it was a picture book of sorts for adults. This is one of the many genius things about the library; you can give random books like this a whirl, though really I was sold from the cover almost instantly.

The subtitle of ‘The Scandalous Life of the Lawless Sisters’ is ‘Criminally Illustrated With What Was to Hand’ and really that sums up what Philip Ardagh has done with this delightful and rather fun read. Being a big fan of Victoriana (very like myself) Ardagh was going through some of the issues of Punch Magazine from 1880 and an idea of a tale of female daring do and Victorian undercover crime came to him using some of the illustrations. What comes of this is a hilarious tale of the Lawless Sisters their biggest heist, what lead them to do it and the outcomes of it all for each and every one of them.

There isn’t too much that can be said about a picture book that you spend an hour reading no matter what a treat it is. I will say I was giggling from the very first picture (see below) and the small passage of prose above it and that’s a good way to start any book. It’s not a book of the finest literature by any means but is very creative for what could essentially be a quirky present for those who love the Victorian era. I will say on one or two occasions I did think that Ardagh was clutching at straws to get the story to work and hold but I still wanted to follow the sisters, especially once they got ‘Russian made umbrella rifles’.  I am not sure I would rush out to buy the rest of Ardagh’s work such as ‘The Silly Side of Sherlock Holmes’ or ‘The Not-So-Very-Nice Goings On At Victoria Lodge’ but if I saw them in the library or was bought them then I would read them with great pleasure. 7.5/10

Not much of a review I know and I did umm and ahhh about popping this post up as the book is so short it is hard to write endlessly about it. It has had an effect on me as I was just telling Gran on the phone (we were chatting about her column which is almost ready – so get excited) a bit ago, coffee’s in hands in our separate bookish abodes. I now know that I want to reach for some good gas lit fiction. I have noticed I have been eyeing up some Sherlock’s from a far and have also been looking rather longingly at Sarah Waters ‘Fingersmith’. The only problem with the latter is that between each part of ‘The Passage’ it’s nice to fall into something short rather than something that’s (not quite as) weighty. Hmmm, a dilemma!

What gas lit fiction could you recommend that I might have or might be able to find at the library? Ot indeed any more tips on how to get out of a bookish slump as Gran is having one too!?!


Filed under Faber & Faber, Philip Ardagh, Review

10 responses to “The Scandalous Life of the Lawless Sisters – Philip Ardagh

  1. This sounds absolutely intriguing! I’d definitely recommend the Waters and think you’d enjoy her.

    • I am a big Waters fan, though I didnt think that the last one was her best I have to say, so its one I have been meaning to read for ages. Not sure it will interweave with The Passage too well though.

  2. That sounds like a hilarious little book. Short, perhaps, but I’m glad you posted about it to bring it to our attention. Unfortunately, I have no good recommendations for you at the moment, but I do hope you can get out of your reading slump.

  3. novelinsights

    This sounds fun! I love the subtitle and like the idea of female derring-do.

    Not sure how to get Gran out of a book slump. Perhaps get her on the phone and talk about a book you both loved and then suggest choices for a similar style?!

    • It is fun, I would say though at 9.99 in hardback its a tad pricey but hey ho its a good treat for someone who loves that sort of thing and a delightful find if you can see it at your library and snare a copy.

      You would make a good lawless sister Polly.

  4. “not quite hitting the reading spot” – I feel for you as I am in just that kind of trough at the moment. I know it is me, not the books. I am reviewing books I read 3 or 4 months ago when I was feeling perkier about reading. Nothing I’ve read in the last few weeks would get a fair go. I am thinking of giving myself a reading ban for a week. Then maybe the starvation will develop a bit more enthusiasm!

    • These troughs are horrid arent they. I am currently blaming the weather though I am slowly getting over my trough bit by bit.

      Oh reading bans, never thought to do that, will take note!

  5. That page you posted is hilarious! I’m going to have to find this one. I forget if you’ve read The Meaning of Night but it might be what you’re looking for right now. Also, you might try The Somnambulist.

    • Brilliant isn’t it and thats just the very start it gets more and more hilarious as you go on. The Meaning of Night was one of the books that didnt make it after the leak in the ceiling we had… very sad.

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