Monday, 30 April 2018

Guest Review : The Comfortable Courtesan by L A Hall

The Comfortable Courtesan by L A Hall
Published by Sleepy Wombatt Press in November 2017.

Guest Review by Kathleen Jowitt:
Today my esteemed Guest Reviewer is Kathleen Jowitt, an author who lives in Cambridge, works in London, and writes on the train! I'm looking forward to her new novel, A Spoke In The Wheel,  which I'm going to read and review in May.

Kathleen's stories are about people who sort their own heads out and learn that they are, on the whole, not nearly such terrible human beings as they thought they were. Speak Its Name (2016) explores Christianity and sexual identity in the context of student life and politics, and was the first self-published novel ever shortlisted for the Betty Trask Prize. Her next book, A Spoke in the Wheel, will be published in May 2018 and looks at physical capacity, the social model of disability, acceptance, redemption, and integrity.

Kathleen's rating: 4 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository : unavailable
Wordery : unavailable
Waterstones : unavailable
Amazon : from £0.99 (ebook)
Prices and availability may have changed since this post was written

Apologia for my temerity in writing this memoir:
I shall not say how, and why, at the age of 15 I became the mistress of the Earl of Craven, because I never had the kind of opportunities that Harriette Wilson wast’d.

However, I enjoy’d the patronage of a number of generous suitors, and in particular, at the age of 27 I fell in with a wealthy Northern ironmaster, whose sound financial advice even more than his generosity ensur’d me the means for comfortable living without the need for writing scandal-monging memoirs, indeed enabling me to support a number of charitable enterprises.

This narrative sets out to encourage a rational and prudent approach to the profession of harlotry and to dispel the notion that a fallen woman is bound to die in the gutter, pennyless and poxt, afore her 30th year.

Kathleen says: Clorinda Cathcart is a very high-class courtesan in Regency London, and for two years between 2015 and 2017 her experiences formed a daily instalment of online fiction. I'd read them on the train to work, or over a mid-morning coffee. They were often gentle, occasionally melodramatic, always sex positive, usually funny, sometimes sad, and invariably a welcome interlude in my day. The characters were so much part of my daily life that I started thinking of them as friends.

Now her adventures are coming out in paperback and ebook format, and I'm enjoying them all over again.

The Comfortable Courtesan was the first volume to appear (Rustick Exile, A Change of Station, and Old Enemies, New Problems are now also available) and it's a delightful introduction to the Regency demi-monde and to a varied and engaging cast of characters. We meet Lord G- R- and his secretary (among other things) Mr MacD-; Mr F- the industrialist, and, surprisingly, his wife; Clorinda's household; the musicians Miss L- and Miss McK- (my own personal favourites); and Sir Z- R- the artist. There's gossip, intrigue – and a wombatt.

Readers may find that Clorinda's idiosyncratic spelling and her habit of referring to characters by their initials take a little bit of getting used to; however, there's a key at the beginning of the book and the characters are sufficiently well-drawn that it's not difficult to get the hang of who's who.

The author, L. A. Hall, is a historian and retired archivist, and the setting and manners are as well-researched as one could hope for.

You can find out more at

I'm rating this four out of five stars – that's because I know it gets better, and I need somewhere to go!

Thank you Kathleen!

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  1. This seems different and like you would have to adjust but the appendix will definitely help.

    Tori @ In Tori Lex

    1. It looks like a fun series and I do like this historical period :-)

  2. It sounds like the style is one that might take a while to ease into, but once you do it is only up from there! I am glad it sounds so informative as well. I'd truly be learning by reading.

    My recent post:

    1. I love learning through fiction books too!