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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Saturday, 12 May 2012

"City of Sin" by Catherine Arnold

I suppose I was naive to be quite so surprised at how rude this book was. It is an explicit history of sex (mostly in London but Arnold is happy to spread her wings when necessary) focussing mostly on prostitutes and rent boys. She is very good on words:

  • because Roman prostitutes satisfied their clients in the open air under arches (fornices) the practice became known as fornication which became the Germanic fokken which led to another word
  • wed means payment; Saxon wives were bought by their husband; the payment being symbolised by a ring
  • gay was the street slang for prostitute in Victorian days

Other discoveries included:

  • Gropecunt Lane was the haunt of cheaper prostitutes, It was later changed into Grape Street and later Grub Street "reminding all those who live by the pen that there is more than one way to prostitute oneself". 
  • The mistress of Edward IV, Jane Shore, survived both Richard III and Henry VII and is buried in Hinxworth Church.

My only criticism is that Arnold's historical research is sometimes suspect. She repeats urban myths as more or less true. She also dwells overlong on familiar stories such as Oscar Wilde and the Profumo Affair.

Well written, interesting and a real page-turner.

May 2012; 333 pages

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