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Shark Alley: The Memoirs of a Penny-a-Liner (The Jack Vincent Papers Book 1) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 571 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top customer reviews
I immediately saw that this novel has some similarities to the Flashman novels by George MacDonald Fraser. It is set in Victorian England, has a protagonist who is incorrigible, although with rather nobler qualities than Flashman, and who relates to the towering figures of the day, though in this case not military men but the lions of literature.
Jack Vincent is a hero of our time as well as of the nineteenth century. Born to a humble tailor who is condemned to imprisonment for debt, he finds he has a gift for story telling which proves his salvation. He fights his way to the top by dint of his own talent and hard work, only to be cast into the depths by vicious and spiteful enemies. One day the toast of literary London. The next day – just toast.
Carver is astonishingly skilled at the difficult feat of writing in a style reminiscent of the time while imbuing the narrative with a twenty first century sensibility. A couple of times early in the novel, his writing echoed the Victorian style a little too exactly for me but he soon returned to the faster pace and knowing style which so characterises the book.
Shark Alley is not only reminiscent of the Flashman books. There are touches of Dickens, Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle and even what seems like a nightmare glance towards The Life of Pi. Or maybe to Steven Spielberg.
This is an entertaining read for all lovers of historical fiction and for those, like me, who write it. I look forward to further instalments.
In a nutshell, Mr Vincent starts his life in bad circumstances, only to rise to the top of the heap, albeit briefly, before once again living precariously from day to day. His voyage as a journalist / correspondent on the ‘Birkenhead’, interspersed with the details of how he got there, form the ingredients of a great story that incorporates many human strengths and frailties. There is skullduggery, heroism, vice, betrayal, avarice, passion, kindness and the redemptive power of love, all interwoven into a tale that I felt really transported me back to how it must have felt to live in that period. The 21st century seems tame by comparison.
I look forward to volume Two.