Category Archives: Philip Ardagh

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!?!

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Filed under Faber & Faber, Philip Ardagh, Review