Saturday, December 05, 2009

Book Review: THE HARLOTS PROGRESS by Peter Mottley

Naive seventeen year old Yorkshire Molly Huckerby left her home town behind for the hope of becoming her cousin Tom's respectable wife. Already she was an orphan having only a few sparse family members. Tom was her hope of a new life in the exciting city of London. Stepping off the wagon into the cold cruel world that was London in the 19Th century it was sending the lamb to slaughter.

Unbeknown to her at the time Molly had walked right into the lions den. She knew London could be dangerous but why was it dangerous? Being caught unaware in the midst's of predators, stalking their prey waiting for the next "Innocent" to take down. Feasting on the still living flesh was daily life in London at the times. It was kill or be killed , survival of the most primitive nature.

Molly had taken one step off the wagon and was approached by a woman she would come to know as "mother" Wickham. The woman was no nurturing mother more like the devils whore house regulator. Mother Wickham "marked" Moll and moved in for the kill right if as on cue. Offering a small refreshment inside her "fine" establishment known to the whole town as The Bell. Molly it just so happened was dropped off the wagon before it took her to her final destination (Toms house). She had her trunk and no idea how to get to Tom's carrying it. Nervously she accepted the offer. Still hesitant she went into the bell, a virgin.

A lost evening and the last thing she could remember was sitting with one of the bells other patrons, the colonel. She would never be the same after making his acquaintance. Awaking in a strange room was not the first thing she noticed. Her full nakedness, a smear of blood on her thigh, and a few guineas on the table? It all did not make sense. Not until mother Wickham paraded in stating "I always let my girls keep there first purse". Mortified Moll realized she had been set up. Tricked, partially drugged and her maiden head was gone forever. She was now a harlot. A abused possession that could be bought and sold at any time. There was no way out for her the bell had to be her home. After she had tracked her cousin down and he refused to acknowledge her as family she had no other choice. Her innocence stolen from her in the night she could never forget or forgive. Could she ever escape being forced into harlotry? With the vile and abusive colonel hot on her there was no chance of escape, her owned her. She was his to do with as he pleased until the tide had turned or an unlikely escape became apparent.

3/5 I do have to state that there should be some kind of disclaimer on this book. Brutal to the extreme, graphic rapes scenes, violent fights, and at one point graphic dominatrix acts bordering on soft porn. You ask why did I read it then? Besides the mystery of what would really happen to Moll at the Bell. I have come to the conclusion that it was like watching a train wreck. Yes it is a terrible thing to see but you can not look away. I found myself seeking time to read more and more because it was so utterly compelling. Molly the soft sweetheart abused repeatably my heart broke for her. The loss of her life with her cousin Tom was so brutal that I completely sympathized with her. I wanted her to make it and find her own place and for once be safe. Sometimes we all need a reminder of why we like other periods or people in novels. I like kings and queen because of the glamor and glitz. Poor Moll possessed none of the glitz but she did have a courageous good heart and for that I related to her. I would recommend this book if you are on the gutsy side and can stomach the violence. As for me I am looking forward to reading the next one "Annie's Quest". It did open a window to a prospective I had never ventured to see before and for that it was a good "brutal" read.

For more information on Peter Mottley read this. If you would like to see the book trailer, check it out. If you can not wait to get your hands on a copy follow one of the links below.


  1. Fantastic review! I declined reviewing this one due to time constraints and then at some point regretted it. I so appreciate you mentioning about all the explicit stuff- cause now I know for sure that I could not stomach it. Though, I can totally understand how such a character who has gone through so much can become endearing and that you felt for her. Thanks for this great review:)

  2. Thanks for yet another excellent review, Allie. I have been eager to read this book, although the graphically violent aspect was something I knew nothing about, and there is nothing in the promotional material on this novel to suggest how gritty it may be. Thank you very much for that heads-up. Although the underbelly of the Georgian era was indeed so seamy that a fictional depiction of it shouldn't necessarily sanitize events, still -- in order for the extremely graphic aspect of the novel not to hit me as a shock, I'm glad to know about it, nevertheless, so I have a better idea of the book's tone.

    Allie, do you think that a female writer might not have been so graphic? Just a thought . . . re: the different ways a male and a female author might approach the same subject matter? Or do you think that in this case the gender of the author has no bearing on the tone?

    Vic from the Jane Austen's World blog has very generously offered to send me her copy after she has read it, and I offered to blog about it as well, though as a historical fiction author myself I'm never comfortable about posting a traditional review (even for dead authors). And after all, who knows where else my words might end up. :)

  3. Oops, Lizzy -- I have such a migraine today that I forgot whose blog I was reading.

    MEA CULPA -- forgive me for addressing you as Allie! I know the difference (though you are both fabulous ladies and amazing friends) :)

  4. Lucy, since I sort of have a feel for your reading style. I really do not think this would have been a pleasant read for you. But who knows you might have gotten hooked into the train wreck just like me. I did enjoy it but at one point I felt as though what else could possible happen to Molly that could be worse than what had already happened to her.

    Leslie, that so stinks about the migraines I get them too really bad. A very good point you bring up about a male author. I did consider that maybe that was the reason for the brutality of the book. My feeling were that there was no lack of emotion from her as a character but there just were so many terrible things that kept happening to her it just felt like she was never going to be alright. I did make a comparison to my favorite male author who writes from a womans prospective. C.W. Gortner has a different spin even in the "Last Queen" there were brutal sections including a rape. I felt as thought C.W. gave enough details to get the point across with out going into the nitty gritty details. This novel has the gritty details which made the violence at times a bit over whelming. I did notice that when I started to become uncomfortable in the violent parts I would skim the words just to get past it because in the end I wanted to know she was okay. A good read that had a dark side but it also had Molly who no matter what was the light of the novel.

  5. Thanks for the great review. I too have this one on my shelf to review. I had no idea about the graphic stuff, though it does make some sense. Like Leslie said, at least I will go into it knowing it.

  6. I agree I think my mind set would have been different had I been able to prepare myself for it. I enjoyed it but did skim a bit. I can be a wuss, big time on certain things.

  7. I don't mind reading about the severe circumstances or the true hardships a person faced, but I have to be in the right mood to read a distressing story and I have to know there is a good ending/outcome. Without giving to much away...Does this story have a happy ending???

  8. Hello everyone,

    Just a quick note to say
    the book has been launched in the UK and we will be launching it worldwide summer 2010
    In the mean time worldwide readers can buy it online at Here is the link to purchase the book and you can by it here with 50p off or from Waterstones or Foyles:

    Thanks from the team to everyone who has read the book :)

  9. Mitzi yes it is a defiantly love story. That is as much as I can give without ruining it.

    Gaby thank you so much for the visit and sending me the wonderful book. I really appreciate it.

  10. I just finished reading this book (playing hookie from work) - and I just had to come back and drop a line or two. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed it. The first few chapters were a little rough to get through, but like you said, I just had to see the train wreck through to the end. It was a really well written story. Glad I finally got to it!

  11. Woah that was awhile ago. I am glad you enjoyed it I also liked it like you said the first chapter were a bit hard but I really enjoyed the ending it really stuck with me. I wonder when the next one is suppose to come out, it has to be sometime soon.


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