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Harry, "to whom Nature in her folly gave the soul of a smuggler, and the tongue of a poet," was a Cornish smuggler, horrifically mutilated in a fire that killed his wife and dispersed his children. Only Martha stood by him. As the story unfolds, she follows her father to London, where the self-anointed, poetry-spouting "Cripplegate Monster" displays his hideously deformed body in the taverns and watering holes of London's underworld. Soon Harry comes to the sinister attentions of Lord Drogo, who "wanted him for his Museum of Anatomy." As father and daughter are drawn into this gentleman scientist's world, Harry turns to drink, catastrophically abusing Martha and sending her fleeing to America, where she becomes embroiled in the struggle for independence from England. At this point, the story may seem to have wandered far afield. But as Martha Peake reaches its climax, Ambrose realizes that the fate of both parent and child is much closer to home than he could ever have imagined.
Practicing the black art of storytelling to near-perfection, Patrick McGrath has produced a wonderful tale of "sacrifice and abomination and heroism and resolve and victory." The book's darkness and intermittent grotesquerie will cement his New Gothic reputation. Still, Martha Peake belongs more arguably in the company of Charles Dickens, whose literary ghost haunts these pages no less powerfully than those of the tragic father-and-daughter team. --Jerry Brotton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Although it has some gripping descriptive passages, there is no consistency of motive or inner life.
At this point, i might add that i spotted several good places for Martha's story to end which would have improved the novel.
If you like your stories by the fireplace, with a strong wind outside, I highly recommend this, and all of McGrath's books.
This was a very sad story about an American Revolutionary War martyrPublished 5 months ago by Dp Fillinger
what a really awful terrible waste of time. The book is as dense and tough to read as something written 100+ years ago, but without any of the insight into humanity that older... Read morePublished 6 months ago by ec05
English author Patrick McGrath has been hailed as the master of the neo-gothic, but he prefers to describe himself as the creator of "stories of love and madness". Read morePublished 10 months ago by Linda Pagliuco
I did enjoy this book, but found it very complicated with too many subplots - thouigh an interesting concept of a story within a story within a story... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Barbara McKerracher
I have read all of Patrick McGrath's books and this was by far one of his best! If you're looking for a lot of info on the Revolution, then this is not the book for you. Read morePublished on October 11, 2012 by googbooks
The unreliable narrator is pretty much standard in McGrath's novels, but he does it so well that it is a pleasure each and every time. Read morePublished on September 24, 2012 by J. Hundley
I listened to a nicely read version of this. McGrath is a superb writer, without question, and unlike so many popular scribes these days, can craft impressive sentences. Read morePublished on May 19, 2012 by T. Burrows
This was my first encounter with McGrath. I enjoy his modern take on the overwrought description, language and emotion of times gone by. Read morePublished on December 7, 2010 by Riverine