Book Jacket

 

rank 2806
word count 76359
date submitted 21.11.2011
date updated 01.04.2012
genres: Historical Fiction
classification: moderate
complete

POLLY

Anne Campbell

A young Victorian London prostitute struggles to become an exclusive Courtesan. Frustrated, she emigrates to America and becomes a famous New Mexico Madam.

 

An old lady recalls her life in the late 1800s as she is being interviewed by a young newspaper reporter in the 1920s and two very different stories emerge.
Polly Parkins, growing up in Victorian London, accepts from an early age that she will be a prostitute, seeing this as her only way out of a life of poverty and deprivation. She struggles to reach the top and become an exclusive, and pampered, courtesan. Beset by difficulties, and enemies, she eventually abandons the idea and emigrates to the U.S.

Realistic and strong-minded, she ends up in New Mexico Territory where she becomes a famous Madam and, in her old age, a respected citizen.

"Polly" is based loosely on stories about Sadie Orchard, a real-life New Mexico Madam of the 1800s. It shows the different levels of prostitution in London and the Southwest, portrays the development of the Old West as well as telling the story of a colorful character.

 
rate the book

to rate this book please Register or Login

 

tags

london, old west, poverty, prostitution, success, ussouthwest, victoriana

on 11 watchlists

58 comments

 

To leave comments on this or any book please Register or Login

subscribe to comments for this book
Shaun Holt wrote 745 days ago

Hi, Anne. I don’t usually read this genre, so my comments may not be as helpful as others. One quick note on your pitch though is it cuts off near the end. “As an old lady, she” then it is cut off, and re-starts with “Polly is based loosely…” So you may just want to delete that “as an old lady, she” part.

I like the scotch whiskey in a blue tea cup. That clues me in about the character’s personality. I like how you show accents in dialogue, i.e. “he don’t know the ‘alf of it!”

I would use a hyphen after family, so it reads “Seemed to run in the family – my Mam earned ‘er bread…” Using “Mam” in place of Mom also shows the character’s English roots.

I think it is interesting that you switch between first person and third person. Usually I’d say stick with one or the other, but I can see the wisdom in you wanting to switch between them.

Okay, before you take us back to 1866, I can see that you know how to write. You have dialogue down very well, and SHOW your character rather than tell (i.e. scotch whiskey in a tea cup, the character’s accent, etc.) … And so far this looks pretty well polished. The only thing I could suggest is adding that hyphen.

Wow, I read through the rest of the first chapter without spotting anything needing correction. This is very well-written, Ann. Just going on this chapter alone, I think you have something that can merit publication. I'm not familiar with this genre or how the market looks for it, but you know how to write. You describe your characters very well, you absolutely nail the setting and dialogue, and you've obviously done a lot of reading or research on this period.

I'll add you to my shelf once a spot clears.

All the best,

Shaun Holt
"Waiting for the Rain" / "German Derelict" / "Columbian Death"

Ann Campbell wrote 779 days ago

Dear Ann, it's five in the morning here and I just finished reading Polly. What a page-turner filled with history! It is clear that you have done a massive research both for the settings and for the characters of the story. Polly is the only book on Authonomy I read in its entirety and I thank you for the pleasure. It was a rich experience. I'll keep Polly on my shelf for a while and I'm sprinkling stars on it. Now off to bed.
Have a nice day,
Iva



Dear Iva, thankyou so much for your comments, and for backing 'Polly". It's always a pleasure to get feedback from someone whose writing I admire. The shelving is great, I'm trying my hand at promoting (for the first time) by getting 'Polly' read and, in some cases, backed and I really need the shelf time.
Anne

Olive Field wrote 784 days ago

Anne Campbell has done a great job telling this story through retired Polly sitting on her porch, a long way from London where her life as a "Lady of the night" began. The dialogue is easy to follow and I think enhances the story.
Each chapter is clearly set up by a question from the reporter interviewing her which sets Polly off on another tale. Very well written.
Best wishes with high stars.
Olive.

FRAN MACILVEY wrote 853 days ago

Dear Ann

I have been meaning to read your book for a few days and I am so glad I read the first two chapters this evening. I find your writing is fluent, your grasp of narrative is good, the plot interesting enough to hold my attention after a hard day's work and your characters well drawn and believable. The details read like you have been there, and done that - very well done. Which is one reason why the whole thing works so well. It is just entirely credible. I find myself absorbed and quite prepared to buy this book and read more.

Thank you for a worthwhile book. I certainly appreciate it.

All the best. Highly rated

Fran Macilvey, "Trapped" :-)

NA Randall wrote 773 days ago

Anne,

Here are my thoughts on your opening chapter.

First off, I was really drawn to your pitch when I read it last night. I always think there's an extra bit of intrigue, a reason to pick up a book, when a story is based on a true life character. Moreover, I think most prospective agents/publishers would agree. Structurally, I like the way you've set things up here - the old woman being interviewed, looking back over her colourful life is an interesting way to start things off. My only criticism - and I loved the touch with the whisky-filled teacup 'like most English women she still takes afternoon tea...' (a very clever and subtle way of introducing, very early on, the reader to the kind of character Polly really is) - is that I felt it was a little too short, too much like a device to grab the attention, when a few more questions, perhaps dropping a little more backstory via dialogue would feel more natural.

Onto London 1866. Again, some beautifully executed scenes here - quite bleak and harrowing in places, but hugely evocative, transporting the reader back in time and place - where you give a clear insight into the way Polly's young mind worked by way of the backdrop she was exposed to - delivering washing to the grand houses, seeing how the other half live - and the poverty and characters around her, where prositituon is the only real way out. The italicized scenes work really well, showing that Polly is already one step ahead of the game (no pun intended), and has a very old head on young shoulders.

The only other thing that stood out for me, and I might be in the minority here, was that I felt you've gone a little too far in places trying to capture the London vernacular, been too faithful in dropping your 'h's' and the like, instead of just giving your dialogue a little flavour. As a result I found myself having to go back over some sentences and reading them again. This, as I said, might just be me, and as the novel progressed may be something I'd get used to.

On a techincal front. Not much jumped out at me, this is highly polished material, with a very advanced draft feel. Early on ''ouse if ill repute' should this be 'of ill repute'? And I wasn't sure about 'remains of a black eye' as you go on to qualify this with the make-up concealing it.

That said, a high quality opening, happy to give you my backing (and many thanks for your helpful pointers re: 'The Butterfly and the Wheel)

Best of luck with your writing.

Neil 'The Butterfly and the Wheel'

Geddy25 wrote 606 days ago

Finally got round to reading some of this!!!!
First of all, I found your pitch very interesting and enticing (even though I'm not really a fan of this genre), and it sort of reminded me of the Titanic film where the old, female survivor was giving her account of the life at the time.
I personally struggle when speech is written for a specific accent - like the Cockney one in yours, but when I got past this, I found that your writing flowed beautifully. You weave a wonderful tapestry of descriptions both of characters and of the settings. Conversations are believable as are the characters and this adds to the overall flow of the text.
As I said, this isn't my chosen genre, but I found the first part of your book capturing my attention very well.
All the best, high stars.
Mike.
(Way Back To Devil's Mountain)

Ann Campbell wrote 628 days ago

Thanks so much for your comments, Steve, and the helpful suggestions. I've pretty much done with "Polly", in fact I've written another novel ("Feast of Heretics" ) since then. I've dropped out of Authonomy for the last six weeks or so, but your comment may motivate me to get back in, and maybe post the revised ms. of "Feast". I'll be happy to look at your book when do. Glad you got the joke about the teacup. Best wishes, Anne.

SteveSeven wrote 628 days ago

Dear Anne,
I have enjoyed the first two chapters of your novel. I like the intro and just as I was asking why the elderly Polly was drinking whisky from the teacup, you landed the joke on me that she was pretending to be drinking tea! Very funny and both the initial image of Polly sitting there and then the joke together made for a perfect first paragraph!
The scene between the journalist and Polly is well handled and there is a smooth transition to her past.
In the start of the second chapter I think that perhaps there could be included a bit more of the 1927 scene to add to the, already great, 3d effect of your format. Just a small nuance of introspection from either charcter would be great.
The ending of the second chapter is a good piece of suspence building for the destiny to come as outlined in the pitch.
All in all, I found your characters to be full and lively, well described and realistic with their various accents and mannerisms giving them their own special place. Well done, Steve

Ann Campbell wrote 721 days ago

Anne,
I love it! Great dialogue and fabulous premise - lots of colourful detail and Polly is perfect for the MC. Enjoyed reading it so much, it's going on my shelf.
Best of luck!
Melissa
Lessons in the Dark


Thanks so much for backing 'Polly', Melissa. I got to about 650 on the list but have sllipped since. Glad you enjoyed the book. I'll get to yours today if I can,
Anne.

Melissa Writes wrote 722 days ago

Anne,
I love it! Great dialogue and fabulous premise - lots of colourful detail and Polly is perfect for the MC. Enjoyed reading it so much, it's going on my shelf.
Best of luck!
Melissa
Lessons in the Dark

Andrew Hughes wrote 722 days ago

Hi Anne,

Just had time to read the first chapter, thought I’d leave a comment for now. I really enjoyed the writing and it’s an excellent start to your story.

I like the frame of having Polly interviewed in later life. The fact that she’s sipping whiskey from her teacup is a great detail. I’d like to see a few more details like that about where and how she lives so I thought that section could be expanded. Also the story would have more of a grounding in 1927 before we’re whisked away to Victorian London.

The younger Polly is introduced very well, she’s smart and likeable. Her exchange with Essie also shows the pitfalls and tragedy of their profession.

Polly’s thoughts written in italics is an interesting way to link her character through the different times. I wondered should her thoughts be limited to her knowledge in each particular timeframe. For instance the youngest Polly, working with her Gran, has the thought ‘Well of course I do!’ when asked if she knows about the profession. This is the young girl’s voice and works well. But a few paragraphs later she muses about ‘poor sods…worn out, and probably sick with the clap, at twenty-five.’ This is the voice of one of the older Polly’s and seems out of place here.

You have a great eye for historic details as Polly and her Gran go about their laundry work. It’s clear the narrative is backed up with solid research. It’s interesting how you describe generations of women falling into this way of life, with the hints of Gran’s early life as a servant in a country house. I like Polly’s determination not to be seen in a maid’s dowdy uniform!

It’s also a great line to finish the chapter. Hope to read more soon. Highly starred.

Best of luck with it,
Andrew.
The Morning Drop

Dianna Lanser wrote 728 days ago

Hi Anne,

You are a wonderful writer. Your historical research and imagination have served you well as you have produced a work of fiction that transports the reader into a much earlier time and a lifestyle that’s foreign to me.

I found Polly’s mid 19th century life so very interesting. You did a great job incorporating all the sights, sounds and smells of London as experienced through the eyes of an impoverished laundry girl. To be honest, I had quite a time imagining how a little girl could possibly idealize the life of a prostitute. But then I had to ask myself, what makes a little girl grow up to work for Playboy? Easy… status, excitement and riches. With that thought, I could accept Polly’s almost natural bent toward her social aspirations.

I like how you start the story out with Polly as an old woman, looking back. I’ve always liked that when it’s done on movies too. I lets the reader know they are in for an exciting and interesting journey. And I have no doubts that your book will deliver, especially when Polly heads to the Wild West. Highly Starred.

Dianna Lanser
Nothing But The Blood

P.S. Here’s a couple little nits I found in Chapter One. Chapter two was really clean.

“On her way to her usual beat she sees Essie leaning up against (a) wall…”

When Essie asks Polly how she’s doing, Polly only replies in her thoughts. I was expecting Polly to at least offer a commiserating white lie.

“Polly has a good idea that that’s what had happened to Gran… and she has always says…” I think this last part should either be “and she always says” or “and she has always said”

jlbwye wrote 731 days ago

Polly. Your pitches promised a most in teresting, and I've not been disappointed.

Ch.1. An original opening scene, which works well, with Polly's thoughts as she faces the very young reporter. The backstory does seem slightly contrived - perhaps you could make her thoughts more authentic by eliminating the phrases which seem to address the reader. Like 'What they called' (homes of ill repute), 'that's what I was famous for', 'I'd always been in the trade.' and 'real life's not really black n' white ist it?'
It's just a thought.

Then you transport me into the world of young Polly, with your comfortable style.

Ch.2. This interlude with the reporter flows much better.
The present tense makes the characters and scenes come alive.
A teeny nit - you need to delete those speech marks in front of the paragraph starting 'Marie isnt listening very hard...'
My heart goes out to Polly as she tastes the waters of the West End. But she's an intelligent, feisty girl who knows what she wants!

Did they say Turkey carpets in those days - or Turkish? Sounds a bit odd, but I'm sure you've done your research.
I can well imagine Belle draping herself bonelessly over the sofa. Lovely word.

Ch.3. You say 'Ithas been...' twice in one sentence in the second paragraph of London 1869. Also, 'damp' is repeated.
Do you mean to drift into Belle's point of view when Polly finds her along the Haymarket?

What an interesting read! You certainly have talent for historical fiction, and I can see it is well researched.

God luck with this - have you tried submitting to Kristin & Susannah's publisher - Knox Robsinon? I dont know if they're still looking for Hist.Fict.

Multi-starred.
Jane (Breath of Africa).

Adeel wrote 739 days ago

An amusing, descriptive and well written book. Your writing style is very impressive, dialogue are realistic with vivid charachters and narrative is at great pace. Highly rated.

Butler's Girl wrote 739 days ago

It's took me a long while to comment - but better late than never. This is a great tale - a pleasure to read as the prose flows nicely and is always interesting. Reminds me a little of The Crimson Petal and the White.
Excellent.

Alison Butler

Ann Campbell wrote 744 days ago

[
Hi, Shaun, thanks so much for the comments--I'll look at the hyphen-needing spot. I thought I'd fixed the problem w. the pitch, a day or two ago, I'll look at it again, thanks for the alert. Thanks too for planning to put me on your shelf, I don't know how I'm moving up the list with so little actual shelf-backing, but yours will certainly help.
I'll get to "Waiting for Rain" as soon as I can. I sometimes get hooked into different genres and enjoy them,
Best wishes, Ann.

Shaun Holt wrote 745 days ago

Hi, Anne. I don’t usually read this genre, so my comments may not be as helpful as others. One quick note on your pitch though is it cuts off near the end. “As an old lady, she” then it is cut off, and re-starts with “Polly is based loosely…” So you may just want to delete that “as an old lady, she” part.

I like the scotch whiskey in a blue tea cup. That clues me in about the character’s personality. I like how you show accents in dialogue, i.e. “he don’t know the ‘alf of it!”

I would use a hyphen after family, so it reads “Seemed to run in the family – my Mam earned ‘er bread…” Using “Mam” in place of Mom also shows the character’s English roots.

I think it is interesting that you switch between first person and third person. Usually I’d say stick with one or the other, but I can see the wisdom in you wanting to switch between them.

Okay, before you take us back to 1866, I can see that you know how to write. You have dialogue down very well, and SHOW your character rather than tell (i.e. scotch whiskey in a tea cup, the character’s accent, etc.) … And so far this looks pretty well polished. The only thing I could suggest is adding that hyphen.

Wow, I read through the rest of the first chapter without spotting anything needing correction. This is very well-written, Ann. Just going on this chapter alone, I think you have something that can merit publication. I'm not familiar with this genre or how the market looks for it, but you know how to write. You describe your characters very well, you absolutely nail the setting and dialogue, and you've obviously done a lot of reading or research on this period.

I'll add you to my shelf once a spot clears.

All the best,

Shaun Holt
"Waiting for the Rain" / "German Derelict" / "Columbian Death"

stubeam wrote 751 days ago

i think this is very well written -in the sense that it sets the scene well and slowly pulls the reader in-its also an interesting story and one i would definitely read-great work!

Ann Campbell wrote 752 days ago

Ann
I

Thanks, Paul, I didn't expect you to look at it twice, unless you're doing what I do--glancing through before suggesting a swap to make sure I don't end up feeling oblligated to comment on something I don't like. Ann
Paul

like2read wrote 756 days ago

We share an interest in historical fiction, same era too. I like your characters and descriptions so I have put your book on my watch list. I will comment further when I have had a chance to read more, so far I'm really enjoying your book.

HGridley wrote 757 days ago

Dear Ann,
As I promised, I have finally gotten here to return your very helpful read of the beginning of my book "Carolina and Hubert". Your story is really very absorbing! I love the colorful style of your writing and will definitely be giving it a bunch of stars. It makes it even more interesting to know that it's based on a true story.
My favorite sentence has to be the "sipping scotch whiskey from a blue teacup". It's even better that the unobservant young reporter thinks her "traditional" because of it!
I'm leaving a number of comments on things that I noticed as I read. I hope they are helpful to you!

“by the time she’s was a skinny little…”: should be “she” instead of “she’s”
“Gran has a cart”: The shift to present tense is rather disconcerting here. If you really prefer writing the scene in present instead of past tense, add a sentence of “For a moment the rush of memory was so intense that she felt eleven again, and lived once more a vivid day she’d spent with her Gran.”
There is another problem with the present tense when it is said that “By the time she is nearly twelve they add remarks like…” You could add another sentence about “She thought again of the time when she was nearly twelve that some of the women began to remark…” and write it as a second memory.
Charlie/Charley: two different spellings
Isn’t eleven a bit young for those days? I haven’t specifically looked it up, but I know there’s been a lot of talk lately about how much younger girls are developing these last couple of generations. Girls in those days were still called “little girls” until they turned fifteen. They looked like it, too. Even today, the girls that start prostitution at twelve are usually dead by 18 (source: Human trafficking info).
“Gran always says”: no new paragraph for the quotation.
“Later she realizes”: a sudden jump back into past tense follows. This would be a good spot to anchor the end of the present-tense memory. “Now, looking at Essie, she is reminded of her Gran’s advice”… and then change the paragraph to let us know we’re going back into the memory.
“Gran continues”: Use a comma instead of a colon; don’t begin a new line.
“I suppose its about time”: Should be “it’s”
“As long as I’m alive and ‘ave me wits”: Should end in quotation marks. Also, “me” for “my” is considered an Irish anomaly; wouldn’t Gran be more likely to say “m’ wits”?
“could of done well if she’d lived”: for the sake of grammar, spell the “have” as “ ‘ave” instead of “of”—or “could’ve” to match the “would’ve” that follows
“ ‘Mothers’ and ‘Aunties’ are worse that slave drivers”: “than instead of “that”
“hook up with a man”: has a modern sound. What about “hitch up”?

I wish you all the best with your story!
~Hannah

Ann Campbell wrote 760 days ago

If this is your debut novel, that’s impressive! It is well written, thought provoking and eye opening. The pacing is also good. Very lush and descriptive and builds the characters in depth. You’ve also done well with the dialect. I did not read to the end but I did sprinkle Polly with a lot of stars.
jenny


Thanks for the stars--I hope you feel like backing 'Polly' later on. It's my second novel, but I spent much less time on it than on the first ("Ssylka") so your comments are particularly welcome. Glad you were o.k. with the dialect, enough people have had trouble with it that I plan to tone it down. Thanks, anyway. I did comment on your novel, and am waiting for a place on my shelf, it's so hard to take books I like off. Anne.

Ann Campbell wrote 760 days ago

If this is your debut novel, that’s impressive! It is well written, thought provoking and eye opening. The pacing is also good. Very lush and descriptive and builds the characters in depth. You’ve also done well with the dialect. I did not read to the end but I did sprinkle Polly with a lot of stars.
jenny


It's actually my second, and I just tossed it off as a lightweight effort, so your commendations are particulary welcome. Thank you so much for the stars, I hope you'll feel able to back it, Anne.

JennyWren wrote 760 days ago

If this is your debut novel, that’s impressive! It is well written, thought provoking and eye opening. The pacing is also good. Very lush and descriptive and builds the characters in depth. You’ve also done well with the dialect. I did not read to the end but I did sprinkle Polly with a lot of stars.
jenny

eddie crockett wrote 763 days ago

Ann:

I am more than happy to back POLLY although - like several others before me - I have certain reservations about the Eliza Doolittle pastiche of the early chapters: I would urge you to tone down the Mockney., particularly because some of it is rather clumsy - not to say unconvincing***. Your dialogue /interior monologue sections would doubtless work on stage/screen but are much less persuasive on the printed page. I would also recommend that you watch your tenses ('who rushes past them as he ran down the steps'?) and come down hard on redundancies ('it's past twelve o'clock at night' - don't we call this 'after midnight'?), not least, if you insist on dropping your 'aitches (sic), make sure your apostrophes are the right way round ..

These quibbles apart, I believe you are to be congratulated on a fine piece of work - insightful, informative and (not least) consistently entertaining (all the more so since it is firmly anchored in fact).

Best, etc.
Eddie Crockett
THE SALLEE ROVERS

______________________

*** Some examples from early on:

'a little way west' = up west
'bobbies' = rozzers, the Bill
'counting out the pennies' = counting the pennies
'not a baby any more' = not a baby no more
'and if you were a shop girl' = if you was a shop girl
'Drat' = Bugger! (surely?)
cuppa tea = cuppa
'pawns' = hocks (as in 'me father 'ocks 'is ****hole 'round the Elephant and Castle, we're the finest ****ing family in the land ...?'
'it was my grandma brought me up' = it was me gran wot brung me up, etc., etc.

Kaychristina wrote 766 days ago

Dear Anne, your *POLLY* is such an interesting tale, especially given that it's based on a real *soiled dove*, as it were! I've read a great deal of this [thoroughly], and made notes as I went along --

PITCH - terrific tag line. In the long pitch, you've left a line dangling...(!!) - *.....and, in her old age, a respected citizen. As an old lady, she ------* ??

Ch.1 - I kind of like the device of the journalist, but I have to say I don't care for present tense throughout - both the sections with the journalist as well as Polly's early life -- but of course, that's a personal preference. In this first chapter, I also found it slightly hard-going with Polly's accent, which I think could be muted a little. By that, I mean you could accent just the first word or so of her lines, and use ordinary contractions for the remainder. We're told, often, by well-known authors and top Publishers/agents, that it's much easier on the mind's eye to use this latter method of conveying accent. I hate to say it, but I also found this chapter's dialogue and thoughts rather cliched, rather Eliza Doolittle throughout - and it's not so much the case with the rest of the novel. It does jump around a bit, too, going back to her life as a small girl with Gran, but it's interesting, nonetheless.

Also, it's an awful long way from the Whitechapel Rd. to Camberwell, (way down across the river - and it would have to be London Bridge. - full of market stalls, which it would be nice to hear about ), and Marylebone is *West End* really. And a long way for Polly to go up West (Mayfair etc.) to test the market... Did she go on a horse-drawn *omnibus* or tram? (They were around - trams from 1860)


In ch.2 - after she's been up West, she's thinking, BUT, then *She tries to get a really good look at the other women, without being too obvious about it, as she makes her way back to the East End.* I think this sentence should maybe be in the para above where *...she slinks off home*.

Then - in Curzon Street - you have "...gold sovereign out of her purse and handed it to me.........." and she calls it a pound? (I know that's what it was worth.)

THIS SECTION IN CURZON STREET and the meeting with BELLE LaRiviere - and maid Iris... IS WHERE IT GETS INTERESTING TO ME.
.
Polly mentions how she could've gone into business with Charley (only mentioned as a friend in ch.1, who gives her the odd fish, trinket he's snatched off someone's neck...) Where's Charley now? We've met Marie from next door, briefly (although we meet her again later), and Essie - a prostitute who's been knocked about.

Episode in a carriage with a young gent.... until he has to go off to Uni. We don't know who he is or get anything much from Polly.
Ch.3 -
Gran has died, and Polly living in an attic. Has forays into better areas and up West. Maybe this could be expanded just a little - her frustration, tiredness, feelings of despair living in that attic, and perhaps how she just has to try and clean herself up to get to the West End - again, does she walk?
Polly sees Belle again, (hurrah!) and saves her from some man (Jeweler) who calls her *Pearl*. Belle invites her to become a maid with her. *And Polly is in.* (Good.)
Mentions Charley again - but he's hardly figured, so we don't really know what he is to her.
Ch.4-
I like this very much. How Belle tries to instruct her in how to speak properly - almost a lost cause, I'd say! And we have a dead gentleman caller... (shades of the dead Turk in Downton Abbey...)
We also see Belle's insecurities, cruelty, jealousy. Well done.
Polly gives notice, intent on going back to her old life, to make something of herself before 30. She gets a good bonus from Belle.
Oh, I'd like to know what was in the box Lord Amberley gave Belle...
Ch.5 -
With Marie, they go up West, and go to the theater, meet an American - Jack from Colorado. Incidentally, I think it'd take longer than a few weeks to sail (steamer) from San Fran to England. Perhaps it'd be better if he has traveled from NY? (Forgive me if you've researched this!)
AND, they sit waiting for him to tell them about the gold fields - he hasn't said it yet, and they don't know anything about Colorado.
I love *soiled doves* and *prairie hens* - good titles for you if ever you've a mind!
I love *They;ve 'ardly stopped painting themselves blue up there.*
NOW, Jackson leaves her a 1st class ticket - what a guy, I hope... (Well, I know he's not a gentleman, but...) Slightly disappointed in Polly's reaction to this. Easy come, easy go... Has this girl any heart at all?

Ch.6 - ah, (she sells it.) Sigh... Now we have her fears re Charley (or Charlie? It switches - the spelling - whenever we hear of him), as well as Belle.
We have a very sudden voyage to NY. Steerage? Don't know.
But once she gets to the U.S., it's interesting, too - the episode in NY is very good. Also the wagon to Santa Fe.
.
WHAT MAKES POLLY TICK? I know she's had a hard upbringing, albeit with the love of her Gran, if love's the right word here.
This book is only 75k words. I think, if you can consider it, you can expand it a great deal.
Perhaps you are hampered by Polly's thoughts as an old woman, mixing with any thoughts she might have had as a young girl. Perhaps these could be expanded, her remembering how she felt back then.

It's an interesting story, especially given its basis on a real life woman. But also given that there's no central plot to speak of, I think it needs Polly to be a little more human. As she stands, I cannot sympathize or empathize with her. I do know there was not much choice for girls back then, and given what Polly was exposed to on her rounds with Gran, etc., she probably saw the upper echelons of prostitution as a good goal in life. But we never see how it hits her when she begins that life. (We only know that she has had a taste of it, so to speak, with the mysterious Charley). There is no longing, no man who perhaps she loves or worships from afar, for us to care, to hope she sees again - even if only as someone she's lost, what might have been. Yes, perhaps she does achieve a measure of respectability when she's old and being interviewed, but I think she needs a measure of humanity buried deep within her.

All of that said, I found the work interesting and colorful - but I'd love to see you expand it a little, expand Polly, if you will. You have great skill as a writer, and I'd like to see more of it, please!

I do wish you every success, Anne, and I'll give your work a turn on my shelf at next opportunity - for love of these old times and the great characters so lacking in modern fiction.

From Kay with love
(*The Ragged Yellow Ribbon*)

AuntPatchy wrote 766 days ago

I was quite please with this book. Great dialog! It really moves the story along. It was very informative and you really got the sense of being in all the places that the book was set. And the mindset of the people living there. Is there a way to buy the actual book? I'm sure my mom would love it and she doesn't do electronic media.

Lacydeane wrote 770 days ago

You are a VERY good writer with a wonderful story. Highest stars. Lacy

moxaherb wrote 772 days ago

Dear Anne,

The colloquial language distinguishes the characters in a way that brings the Old West alive. Having lived in Arizona and traveled in New Mexico, I happened upon the museum that commemorates Polly. Your vivid language brings back the faded glory and liveliness of her life. I recommend that you consider submitting the book to book festivals.

Best,

Moxaherb

NA Randall wrote 773 days ago

Anne,

Here are my thoughts on your opening chapter.

First off, I was really drawn to your pitch when I read it last night. I always think there's an extra bit of intrigue, a reason to pick up a book, when a story is based on a true life character. Moreover, I think most prospective agents/publishers would agree. Structurally, I like the way you've set things up here - the old woman being interviewed, looking back over her colourful life is an interesting way to start things off. My only criticism - and I loved the touch with the whisky-filled teacup 'like most English women she still takes afternoon tea...' (a very clever and subtle way of introducing, very early on, the reader to the kind of character Polly really is) - is that I felt it was a little too short, too much like a device to grab the attention, when a few more questions, perhaps dropping a little more backstory via dialogue would feel more natural.

Onto London 1866. Again, some beautifully executed scenes here - quite bleak and harrowing in places, but hugely evocative, transporting the reader back in time and place - where you give a clear insight into the way Polly's young mind worked by way of the backdrop she was exposed to - delivering washing to the grand houses, seeing how the other half live - and the poverty and characters around her, where prositituon is the only real way out. The italicized scenes work really well, showing that Polly is already one step ahead of the game (no pun intended), and has a very old head on young shoulders.

The only other thing that stood out for me, and I might be in the minority here, was that I felt you've gone a little too far in places trying to capture the London vernacular, been too faithful in dropping your 'h's' and the like, instead of just giving your dialogue a little flavour. As a result I found myself having to go back over some sentences and reading them again. This, as I said, might just be me, and as the novel progressed may be something I'd get used to.

On a techincal front. Not much jumped out at me, this is highly polished material, with a very advanced draft feel. Early on ''ouse if ill repute' should this be 'of ill repute'? And I wasn't sure about 'remains of a black eye' as you go on to qualify this with the make-up concealing it.

That said, a high quality opening, happy to give you my backing (and many thanks for your helpful pointers re: 'The Butterfly and the Wheel)

Best of luck with your writing.

Neil 'The Butterfly and the Wheel'

Paul Beattie wrote 776 days ago

I really enjoyed this, Ann. Very highly starred and on my watchlist so I can read on.

Altho I've never written any historical fiction myself (a little of Filthy Luca is set in 1945 but it's a very minor part of the novel) I do love reading it. There's nothing like being transported back to another age, losing yourself in the colours and sounds and smells of a time gone by. It's this sense of being fully immersed in a bygone age which I think you do particularly well. The sense of time and place - both in terms of the phrasing of the prose and the descriptive passages and the dialogue/internal monologues - is subtly but very persuasively evoked. It's clear you've invested a great deal of time and effort in researching life in the C19th (on both sides of the Atlantic) and all your efforts have paid off handsomely. This feels like a fully formed, involvingly real world. Very impressive.

The prose itself is wonderfully smooth and filled with lots of terrifically evocative, quirkily original turns of phrase. The dialogue feels real and helps both to drive the scenes and flesh out the various characters. I really liked the italicised internal monologue inserts - a clever way to allow the reader to fully identify with Polly's mindset. The plot feels well conceived and complex and, with its blend of adventure, romance, social realism etc, should appeal to readers from a number of genres. I’m not one hundred percent sure what purpose the short C20th scenes at the beginning of each chapter serve (they do feel like a slightly clunky literary device at the moment??) but maybe their purpose will become clear as I read on.

If I were to make any criticism it would be that, altho generally I enjoyed the phonetic representation of the C19th Cockney dialect, I did find the constant contraction of words/dropping of aitches etc a little intrusive/distracting. I think there's a danger of the dialogue drifting into pastiche which would be such a shame as it would undermine the immersive realism of the world you've so cleverly created. For me, it’s the overall ‘feel’ of dialogue rather than whether or not it's an accurate representation of precisely how someone speaks that's important. Your realistic phrasing (and clever use of words like 'furvermore' and replacing 'my' with 'me', for example,) is sufficient, in my opinion, to give a flavour of the Cockney accent. The reader will instinctively hear 'ouse' for 'house' and 'er' for 'her' etc without your having to amend the dialogue accordingly. Less, for me, would be much, much more. Just a thought.

In short, a beautifully written, very persuasive piece of historical fiction. Thanks and best of luck. P

Ann Campbell wrote 779 days ago
Ann Campbell wrote 779 days ago

Dear Ann, it's five in the morning here and I just finished reading Polly. What a page-turner filled with history! It is clear that you have done a massive research both for the settings and for the characters of the story. Polly is the only book on Authonomy I read in its entirety and I thank you for the pleasure. It was a rich experience. I'll keep Polly on my shelf for a while and I'm sprinkling stars on it. Now off to bed.
Have a nice day,
Iva



Dear Iva, thankyou so much for your comments, and for backing 'Polly". It's always a pleasure to get feedback from someone whose writing I admire. The shelving is great, I'm trying my hand at promoting (for the first time) by getting 'Polly' read and, in some cases, backed and I really need the shelf time.
Anne

Iva P. wrote 780 days ago

Dear Ann, it's five in the morning here and I just finished reading Polly. What a page-turner filled with history! It is clear that you have done a massive research both for the settings and for the characters of the story. Polly is the only book on Authonomy I read in its entirety and I thank you for the pleasure. It was a rich experience. I'll keep Polly on my shelf for a while and I'm sprinkling stars on it. Now off to bed.
Have a nice day,
Iva

Olive Field wrote 784 days ago

Anne Campbell has done a great job telling this story through retired Polly sitting on her porch, a long way from London where her life as a "Lady of the night" began. The dialogue is easy to follow and I think enhances the story.
Each chapter is clearly set up by a question from the reporter interviewing her which sets Polly off on another tale. Very well written.
Best wishes with high stars.
Olive.

Ann Campbell wrote 785 days ago

Thanks, Ian (Ian D.?) for getting to Polly so soon. I'll try and get to yours today or tomorrow,Thanks for the very interesting comments. Yes, Polly is remembering the 1800s, although she's doing the remembering in the 1920s, in response to the young reporter's questions. I researched both eras pretty thoroughly and, like you, tend to get caught up in it. Anne

Ann Campbell wrote 785 days ago

Well, it take omniscience, and point-of-view, to a whole new level, with narrative that shifts from Polly Parkin’s point of view, she sees a “very young man”, to the thoughts of the young man, and back to the thoughts of Polly Parkins.

Shifting point of view is the antithesis of what I’m trying to do, but then this is Historical Fiction, and it wouldn’t be anything without omniscience, so, yes it’s very good, thought provoking. Within half a page I was asking myself questions and Googling. It’s why I never finish historical fiction.

Thanks, Ian (Ian D.?) for getting to Polly so soon. I'll try and get to yours today or tomorrow,Thanks for the very interesting comments. Yes, Polly is remembering the 1800s, although she's doing the remembering in the 1920s, in response to the young reporter's questions. I researched both eras pretty thoroughly and, like you, tend to get caught up in it. Anne

Polly says, “not that they don’t get up to all sorts of sinning now, they keep it more ‘idden.” Is she right? Weren’t women being liberated by Freud and technology in the 20s and being open about it? But then Polly is really talking about Victorian England. It’s interesting how she overlaps social eras.

Anyway, after wasting ages looking up the social changes of the nineteen twenties (this is why I love historical fiction), I decided I’d better post something, and I only reached half way down the first page.

I like that Polly thinks in the voice of a London working-class Victorian, “E don’t know the ‘alf of it”, and then speaks more properly, with, “Well, young man, what do you want to ask me?”

Clearly, I know nothing about writing Historical Fiction, but I do like the voices and observations going on in Polly. Very good.

iandsmith wrote 785 days ago

Well, it take omniscience, and point-of-view, to a whole new level, with narrative that shifts from Polly Parkin’s point of view, she sees a “very young man”, to the thoughts of the young man, and back to the thoughts of Polly Parkins.

Shifting point of view is the antithesis of what I’m trying to do, but then this is Historical Fiction, and it wouldn’t be anything without omniscience, so, yes it’s very good, thought provoking. Within half a page I was asking myself questions and Googling. It’s why I never finish historical fiction.

Polly says, “not that they don’t get up to all sorts of sinning now, they keep it more ‘idden.” Is she right? Weren’t women being liberated by Freud and technology in the 20s and being open about it? But then Polly is really talking about Victorian England. It’s interesting how she overlaps social eras.

Anyway, after wasting ages looking up the social changes of the nineteen twenties (this is why I love historical fiction), I decided I’d better post something, and I only reached half way down the first page.

I like that Polly thinks in the voice of a London working-class Victorian, “E don’t know the ‘alf of it”, and then speaks more properly, with, “Well, young man, what do you want to ask me?”

Clearly, I know nothing about writing Historical Fiction, but I do like the voices and observations going on in Polly. Very good.

Ann Campbell wrote 788 days ago
Ann Campbell wrote 788 days ago

thanks for the comments, Free, I've fixed Chap.20 and deleted from Chap 24 the passage duplicated at the end of Chap 26. Thanks for being so explicit. I hope you enjoyed the book enough to put it on your shelf, I'm trying my hand at promoting it upward, Anne.

Ann Campbell wrote 788 days ago

thanks for the comments, Free, I've fixed Chap.20 and deleted from Chap 24 the passage duplicated at the end of Chap 26. Thanks for being so explicit. I hope you enjoyed the book enough to put it on your shelf, I'm trying my hand at promoting it upward, Anne.

Ann Campbell wrote 788 days ago

[

Thankyou for the comments, Free, and the compliments. I've fixed chaps 20 and 26--there was a whole (short) passage duplicated in 26 and 24, so I've removed it from 24. (editing and moving chaps around problem) Thanks again for pointing this out. I hope you put 'Polly' on your shelf, I'm trying my hand at promoting it upwards. Anne


Wanttobeawriter wrote 788 days ago

POLLY
This is an interesting story, partly because the topic is so unique, partly because it’s so well written. I love the dialogue. It took me a minute or two to understand some of it, but after I got the feel for it, had no more trouble. I wondered, tho, why, in the very beginning, Polly thinks with an accent, but doesn’t talk that way. Love the detailed explanation of how clothes were washed; made me appreciate my washer and dryer. Bottom line: this is an enjoyable read. Highly starred and added to my shelf. Wanttobeawriter: Who Killed the President?

Ann Campbell wrote 790 days ago

I always admire authors who can write accents well, as I like to read books that have them, putting that aside, this book gave me three non stop hours of joyful reading, will take me another couple of days to finish, which Is a definite certainty. The story is perfectly told, just love the format, the perfect writing. on my shelf for a long time.

Portraits Of A Small Peasant.



Hi, Tojo, first thanks for the comments and support. I have 'Small Peasant' on my watchlist and hope to get to it soon. Sounds fascinating.

Spilota wrote 790 days ago

I'm enjoying this very much for the story. A few minor typos etc but they can be fixed.

Ann Campbell wrote 790 days ago

hanks so much for the comments, Fred. I'll get on the glitches, errors, etc. and perhaps edit in a bad end for Jamie--great idea of yours. Not sure if it was 'on the game' in the 1870s, I'll check. I'll get to your book as soon as I can, Anne

tojo wrote 791 days ago

I always admire authors who can write accents well, as I like to read books that have them, putting that aside, this book gave me three non stop hours of joyful reading, will take me another couple of days to finish, which Is a definite certainty. The story is perfectly told, just love the format, the perfect writing. on my shelf for a long time.

Portraits Of A Small Peasant.

leon ashworth wrote 791 days ago

Hi Anne.

Firstly, thanks for watch-listing 'Coins of Justice'.

I had a look at 'Polly' BEFORE dropping into this comments section. It is interesting, however, that your earlier contributor, Andrew Stevens, drew the same conclusions that I did. I fully grasp the need for the cockney phrasing, but found that with so much of it I lost the 'flow' too many times. There is so much here that is very good, and perhaps it may be worth seeking a way to reduce the cockney 'twang' to keep the reader hooked.

One phrase suggestion. In England, girls are normally ON the game, rather than IN the game.

All that said, I think your writing is colourful and descriptive - well done.

Regards

Leon Ashworth

FreeFalconer wrote 793 days ago

I enjoyed this enough to read the whole thing in one sitting.

At the end of Ch 26 you have a sentence about Polly hoping the townsfolk will forget about hassling her. That sentence appears earlier - maybe 3-5 chapters earlier. You could probably use "Find" to locate it.

Chapter 20, Para 3 you have an editing glitch - "he is" sitting alone after the sentence, and the sentence itself has obviously been edited but not all the changes made.

I don't have much more to say. I thoroughly appreciate the level of research you did for the London sequences, even down to the information on working girls and London cant of the time. I love the word dollymop. As far as the US section goes, I can only take it for granted that you researched that just as well.

If I have one complaint, it is that I would have liked it to be longer. And for something horrible to end up happening to Jamie. Nothing too elaborate - but how nice would it have been for Polly to read a newspaper article - or hear gossip - about how Jamie was shot and killed by another Madam he romanced then tried to rip off?

That's all I've got. Thank you for an engaging read.

Derek O'Brien wrote 794 days ago

Anne, what I've read so far of your book, I've liked :-) There's a wonderful flow to the dialogue and the narrative, and a refreshing sense of colour, detail and authenticity. I know some previous comments have noted that the local dialect might be too pronounced, but I didn't find that, possibly because I've been living in England for so long, and by hearing the words in my head as I was reading it... I won't go into detail about grammar or punctuation (not that I noticed any problems) but will come back to make further comments as I continue reading...

jrapilliard wrote 802 days ago

Dear Anne, I have just backed your book. Perhaps you could return the favour and back mine, Penrose - Princess of Penrith. If you do, many thanks. Best wishes, John

Ann Campbell wrote 804 days ago

Hi, Andrew,
thanks so much for the review. I particularly appreciated the many thoughtful comments and will seriously consider changes. "The Poet" was one of the best I've read on Authonomy so your positive remarks meant a lot. Heartfelt congratulations on making it to the top, I hoped you would,
Anne

Ann Campbell wrote 804 days ago

Hi, Andrew,
thanks so much for the review. I particularly appreciated the many thoughtful comments and will seriously consider changes. "The Poet" was one of the best I've read on Authonomy so your positive remarks meant a lot. Heartfelt congratulations on making it to the top, I hoped you would,
Anne

Ann Campbell wrote 804 days ago

I really enjoyed this, Anne. Highly starred and on my watchlist for further reading.

Although I wouldn’t have the first idea how to go about writing it, I’m a huge fan of historical fiction. I love the experience of being transported to another time and place, something you do particularly well here. The period detail is particularly good. It’s clear and convincing (it’s obvious you’ve done your research) but never gets in the way of the narrative. It’s just there, in the background, adding tremendous depth and colour to the scenes.

Thanks so much for the reply. I really appreciate the thoughtful detailed comments and will seriously consider changes, when I'm not revising my other Authonomy ms. Most of the points are well-taken. 'The Poet' was one of the best books I've read on Authonomy, so your positive remarks meant a lot. Heartfelt congratulations on zooming up the list.
Anne
Anne

The dialogue feels real and purposeful and, again, helps to evoke a very persuasive period feel. I do think you slightly overdo the London phrasing and the novel would have a better sense of flow if you got rid of some of the cockney contractions etc, although that’s probably a judgement call.

The plot feels well-thought out and multi-faceted and, with its blend of drama, social commentary, historical realism etc, should appeal to a broad cross-section of readers.

In short, a very stylish, subtly evocative piece of historical fiction. Thanks and best of luck. A


I made some notes as I went along on chapter 1. Feel free to ignore!!

Whisky not whiskey?? (or is this in American English??)

I like the way you use contractions to reflect Polly’s London phrasing, although it does make for quite a stop-start, staccato read?? Maybe keep the more evocative contractions (eg. s’pose, ’ere, ’otel) but lose some of the others (eg. ’e, ’ow, ’im etc)?? I think, if you do, you’ll preserve the cockney/London feel of her speech/thought patterns but it will make for a more fluent read?? Just a thought.

I like Polly’s internal monologue. Very evocative and a good way to introduce back story. Given that she’s in the middle of an interview, however, her musings do seem rather extensive/involved?? I can’t help but wonder what the interviewer is doing while Polly is deep in thought about her past??

‘London, England, 1866.’ – new line??

‘as her gran [not Gran] would say’ (‘gran’ if it refers to a relative, ‘Gran’ if it’s a substitute for a name)

Love the phrase ‘sporting woman’!!

I like the way you leave most of the dialogue free-standing. Instils good energy into the scenes.

‘Cheeky tart’ – love this!!

Really good description of the house in Camberwell. Simple and direct but very evocative.

‘looks down her nose’ – cliché??

‘Snotty baggage’!!

‘Where Polly and Gran live…etc’ – this para feels a bit like an info-dump??

‘I don’t know, Missis,’ Gran says [full-stop not comma] ‘She’s…’

‘not a little kid any more’ – feels quite modern??

‘Polly put that kettle on…etc’ – makes me think of the nursery rhyme?? Maybe rephrase??

Really good detail re the daily work of a washerwoman. Just enough to set the scene etc without becoming overbearing or intrusive. Nicely done.

Good end to chapter. Clearly establishes Polly’s outlook on life.

AndrewStevens wrote 805 days ago

I really enjoyed this, Anne. Highly starred and on my watchlist for further reading.

Although I wouldn’t have the first idea how to go about writing it, I’m a huge fan of historical fiction. I love the experience of being transported to another time and place, something you do particularly well here. The period detail is particularly good. It’s clear and convincing (it’s obvious you’ve done your research) but never gets in the way of the narrative. It’s just there, in the background, adding tremendous depth and colour to the scenes.

The dialogue feels real and purposeful and, again, helps to evoke a very persuasive period feel. I do think you slightly overdo the London phrasing and the novel would have a better sense of flow if you got rid of some of the cockney contractions etc, although that’s probably a judgement call.

The plot feels well-thought out and multi-faceted and, with its blend of drama, social commentary, historical realism etc, should appeal to a broad cross-section of readers.

In short, a very stylish, subtly evocative piece of historical fiction. Thanks and best of luck. A


I made some notes as I went along on chapter 1. Feel free to ignore!!

Whisky not whiskey?? (or is this in American English??)

I like the way you use contractions to reflect Polly’s London phrasing, although it does make for quite a stop-start, staccato read?? Maybe keep the more evocative contractions (eg. s’pose, ’ere, ’otel) but lose some of the others (eg. ’e, ’ow, ’im etc)?? I think, if you do, you’ll preserve the cockney/London feel of her speech/thought patterns but it will make for a more fluent read?? Just a thought.

I like Polly’s internal monologue. Very evocative and a good way to introduce back story. Given that she’s in the middle of an interview, however, her musings do seem rather extensive/involved?? I can’t help but wonder what the interviewer is doing while Polly is deep in thought about her past??

‘London, England, 1866.’ – new line??

‘as her gran [not Gran] would say’ (‘gran’ if it refers to a relative, ‘Gran’ if it’s a substitute for a name)

Love the phrase ‘sporting woman’!!

I like the way you leave most of the dialogue free-standing. Instils good energy into the scenes.

‘Cheeky tart’ – love this!!

Really good description of the house in Camberwell. Simple and direct but very evocative.

‘looks down her nose’ – cliché??

‘Snotty baggage’!!

‘Where Polly and Gran live…etc’ – this para feels a bit like an info-dump??

‘I don’t know, Missis,’ Gran says [full-stop not comma] ‘She’s…’

‘not a little kid any more’ – feels quite modern??

‘Polly put that kettle on…etc’ – makes me think of the nursery rhyme?? Maybe rephrase??

Really good detail re the daily work of a washerwoman. Just enough to set the scene etc without becoming overbearing or intrusive. Nicely done.

Good end to chapter. Clearly establishes Polly’s outlook on life.

12