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Misfortune by Wesley Stace

Misfortune (original 2005; edition 2005)

by Wesley Stace, Abbey Tyson (Illustrator), Marie Mundaca (Designer)

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8433216,347 (3.82)45
Authors:Wesley Stace
Other authors:Abbey Tyson (Illustrator), Marie Mundaca (Designer)
Info:Little, Brown and Company (2005), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 531 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:signed copy

Work details

Misfortune by Wesley Stace (2005)

  1. 00
    Middlesex: A Novel by Jeffrey Eugenides (ljbwell)
    ljbwell: Yes, they are quite different books, and eras, but both explore the complexity of gender & identity.

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» See also 45 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
Its strengths more than made up for it's weaknesses. I bet this author will get better and better. ( )
  badube | Mar 6, 2019 |
A 500-page romp through early 19th century England, this book tells the story of Rose Loveall, a male foundling raised as a girl heir to Love Hall--who grows up to be a cross-dressing man, booted from his home by the Osbern side of the Loveall family.

Intrigue (over decades), goofiness, wordplay, rich snobs, longtime servants and friends, ballads, and books all come together to solve the mystery of Rose's origin and find the true heir to Love Hall.

And it really does all neatly wrap up. I almost want to read it again so I can better catch the details in the appendix. ( )
  Dreesie | Oct 17, 2017 |
An absolutely whacky novel, with hints of Dickens, Sterne, Fielding, and Charles Palliser. Somewhat standard inheritance plot, but with added elements of gender identity at the core of the book. While rather strange in parts, certainly an attention-holding read! ( )
  JBD1 | May 19, 2015 |
This is a quirky, playful, sympathetic novel that blends the modern themes of gender identity and self-discovery with a Dickensian rags-to-riches theme and a Dickensian theme, setting and cast of characters.

This novel was a crazy amalgam of of themes and styles that worked beautifully!

I just finished reading this tour-de-force a few minutes ago, and I already want to open it to the first page and read it all over again! ( )
  bookwoman247 | Jan 11, 2014 |
The quote on the cover did it or me:
"...Like some inspired collaboration between Charles Dickens and Pedro Almodovar."
  Honeysucklepie | Aug 21, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
In its premise, plot, pacing, style, and enormous cast of characters, Misfortune operates deliberately like a Dickens novel. The book begins with a foundling in a rubbish heap (a foundling!), taken home to opulent Love Hall by the bachelor Lord Geoffroy Loveall, who, because of the traumatic early death of his sister Dolores, is determined to raise the child as a girl (Rose Old), even though the child is a boy.
This gender-bending romp about a boy raised as a girl in 19th-century England--penned by musician John Wesley Harding, writing here under his real name--more than lives up to the hype it will surely, ahem, engender.
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"I hope my Poeme is so lively writ, That thou wilt turne halfe-mayd with reading it"

-Beaumont: Paraphrase of Ovid's

"Salmacis and Hermaphroditus" (1602)
For my mother and father
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By now, Pharoah had reached his destination.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0316154482, Paperback)

One of the most auspicious debuts of recent years, Wesley Stace's Misfortune follows the rise, fall, and triumphant return of Rose Old, a foundling rescued from a London garbage heap in 1820 by the richest man in Britain. Lord Geoffroy Loveall, whose character has been shaped by perpetual mourning for a sister who died in childhood, seizes on the infant as a replacement for his beloved sister. With the help of trusted servants, he arranges for the child to be lovingly brought up at his ancestral mansion, Loveall Hall--to all appearances, his biological daughter and unhoped-for heir. No matter that the baby is not a girl.

The story thus far is so engaging, and the details of Rose's childhood so playfully rendered (when she was first brought to Loveall Hall, the staff of 250 included a servant whose sole responsibility was to iron newspapers before their second reading), that it is with reluctance that the reader meets the inevitable rude, scheming relatives whose plotting will lead to the "misfortune" of the title. Luckily, Stace (the given name of the musician John Wesley Harding) takes too much delight in Rose to dump her back on the garbage heap, or at least not for long. The cross-dressing love child of Great Expectations and A. S. Byatt's Possession, Misfortune will find you breathlessly tracking the movements of its principal players, and applauding the most ridiculous twists of fate. --Regina Marler

Amazon.com Bonus Content
Born in Hastings and educated at Cambridge, Wesley Stace is also known as the musician John Wesley Harding. Musical influences are on display in his gender-bending debut novel, Misfortune, a historical tale set in 19th-Century England about an abandoned boy raised as a girl. Read on to listen to three original songs inspired by the book.

A Message from Wesley Stace
Songs weave their way throughout Misfortune--some are ballads, crucial to the plot and written by one of the characters, others are traditional songs sung at various points of the narrative, others are folk songs from a collection in the Octagonal Library of Love Hall, the home of the central family.

Songs aren't anything if they aren't sung, so I decided to match melodies and words and record some of them. I picked these because they were the first two. There will be a full record of the songs of Misfortune, performed by The Love Hall Tryst (myself, Kelly Hogan, Nora O'Connor, and Brian Lohmann) which will be released by Appleseed Recordings later this year. --Wesley Stace

From Chapter One: "For a moment, the laundress was unaware that there was anyone beneath. She began to sing as she worked and this is what finally breathed life into Pharaoh again. It was one of the old songs, his favourite of the many she sang: the story of Lambkin the builder who tortures Lord Murray's family when his note is refused. The purity of Annie's voice contrasted starkly with the words of her song and the street below:
"'Where is the heir of this house?' said Lambkin:
'Asleep in his cradle,' the false nurse said to him.
And he pricked that baby all over with a pin,
While the nurse held a basin for the blood to run in."
She had sung it so many times as a lullaby that the horror of the story was somehow soothing."

Listen to "Lambkin"

"Lord Lovel"
From Chapter Two: "Loveall recalled a previous Lord Loveall and the song that bore his name, and he sang it softly to the baby. This ancestor had deferred his marriage for seven years while he went travelling. He returned after only twelve months, but as he rode home, he heard the church bells ringing, "for Nancy Bell who died for a discourteous squire." He died too of grief, as he gazed on her corpse lying in its coffin, and was buried next to her. From her heart grew a red rose and from his heart a briar:
"They grew and grew to the church steeple
Till they could grow no higher
And he pricked that baby all over with a pin,
And there entwined in a true lover’s knot
For true lovers to admire."

Listen to "Lord Lovel"

"The Ballad of Miss Fortune"
"Miss Fortune" is the song from which came the original idea for Misfortune. The Ballad of Miss Fortune is a re-recording of this song from John Wesley Harding's album, Awake.

Listen to "The Ballad of Miss Fortune"

Music from John Wesley Harding

Adam's Apple
Here Comes the Groom
Trad Arr Jones
Confessions of St. Ace
John Wesley Harding's New Deal

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:47 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"On a moonlit night on the outskirts of London, Lord Geoffroy Loveall finds the answers to his prayers: an abandoned baby, somehow still alive amid the junk of a rubbish heap. Rescuing the infant from certain death, Lord Geoffroy adopts her as his only child, heir to the fabulous Love Hall fortune. He names her Rose in memory of his long-dead, endlessly mourned sister and gives her a childhood of unparalleled gaiety and unstinting pleasure." "But every house has a secret, and as Rose approaches adolescence, the secret of Love Hall becomes impossible to hide. As much as Lord Geoffroy wanted a daughter, the baby he brought home is, in fact, a boy. Lace petticoats and expensive frocks cannot disguise what blooms just beneath. Lady Rose has never been a girl, and it is Rose himself who is most bewildered by the revelation." "As a flock of outraged relatives circles, each clamoring for a share of the family riches, Rose has no choice but to flee. He must abandon the luxury and safety of his beloved home and travel halfway around the world to begin to understand who he really is - and to unlock the secret of his rightful place."--Jacket.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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