dreamsanddedications

The Whitechapel Virgin – In the Spotlight with Ripper Experts

Whilst most people have heard of Jack the Ripper, how many truly know his victims? And to what degree are they remembered as humans, mothers, or were they nothing more than just displaced members of London’s 18th century largely critical and class-obsessed society?

In The Whitechapel Virgin, the prostitutes are given a voice, and as can be expected it’s a terribly sad one. But the author’s harrowing portrayal of their downtrodden day-to-day lives is much more evocative and realistic than any other media representation that has ever been cast on Whitechapel’s prostitutes to date.

The ‘fictional’ Jack the Ripper works his way through the entire story, terrifying the ‘ladies of the night,’ and even though he is not cast as the cunning, sly, blood-thirsty gentleman that the media love to portray, he is by many reader’s accounts as good and likely a culprit as any.

mikecovell“Carla Acheson’s story takes you down the dark streets of Whitechapel, to a time when all was not as it seems, and an immense shadow was looming over the metropolis. The book is a real page turner, and one that grips the reader until the very end. An excellent addition to any shelf.” – Mike Covell – Actor, TV Producer

The following review of The WhiteChapel Virgin is  given by award–winning author Brian Porter who has won many book awards such as Preditors & Editors Best Thriller Novel Award, 2008 for A Study in Red – The Secret Journal of Jack the Ripper.

“The Whitechapel Virgin is a thoroughly entertaining fictional rendition of life among Whitechapel’s prostitutes at the time of the Jack the Ripper murders. Great empathy in depicting the women as real human beings with their own hopes, fears and aspirations.” Brian Porter – A Study in Red

While Ripperologists deal with fact, Acheson’s novel delves deep into the emotional and debilitating lives which the women likely led. In her view the victims were not just victims but real people with a heart, a soul, and each led a sad life only to experience a devastatingly painful ending, their deaths being recorded as one of the ‘worst slaughters’ in British history.

Acheson effectively leads you away from the blood and gore for a little while, only to entice you into a warm lodging house where you will find the prostitutes laughing drunkenly by the fireside on a bitter cold night, and if you follow them to their private quarters you can sit and watch them shed their tears.

The ebook is currently available at a discount price at Amazon UK Amazon US

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Further reading and related sources:

Mike Covell – IMDB – TV Production credits

Jack The Ripper Casebook – The Victims and an insight into the murders.

Fifty Shades of Victorian London – An interesting invitation into Whitechapel and the novel by Carla Acheson.

The Whitechapel Virgin – The author discusses her concept and research into the story.

The Victorians and Sex – Yes you may think the Victorians were a particularly prudish bunch – but think again!

 

dreamsanddedications

Review: The Girl in the Photograph – Kate Riordan

The Girl in the Photographby Kate Riordan

When Alice Eveleigh arrives at Fiercombe Manor during the long, languid summer of 1933, she finds a house steeped in mystery and brimming with secrets. Sadness permeates its empty rooms and the isolated valley seems crowded with ghosts, none more alluring than Elizabeth Stanton, whose only trace remains in a few tantalizingly blurred photographs. Why will no-one speak of her? What happened a generation ago to make her vanish?

The storyline centres on motherhood, the shame and disgrace of being an unmarried mother, as well as post-partum depression – something which we rarely get to view in the Victorian era. These elements are weaved into a tale around Stanton house and its buried secrets.

There were some very evocative and poignant descriptions in this 400 page novel. The story was interesting, though the pace a little to slow for my taste, which made the read slightly tedious to complete. The dual narrative introduces you firstly to Alice, a young unmarried lady in the Edwardian era, who is sent to Stanton House to await the birth of a child that she may be forced to give up, and Elizabeth Stanton, an upper class woman suffering multiple miscarriages and post partum depression who had lived at Stanton many years before.

If you are a reader who wishes to savour deeply colourful description and slow building suspense this is a perfect choice. There were instances where the book did feel hauntingly atmospheric, though sometimes I felt the intertwining stories were a little enforced.

‘Gripping’ is not how I would describe this read, but the author’s exploration of the maternal themes mentioned above were interesting enough to hold my attention, and the air of mystery throughout the book prevailed until the very end.

 

 

 

dreamsanddedications

Fifty Shades of Victorian London

whitechapelvirginIMAGE1Dear Reader, 

Welcome to Fifty Shades of Victorian London, where philanderers, drunkards and the very dredges of human society reside.

Wrap up well for the air is cold, and follow me as we first step foot inside Whitechapel, where there exist more slums, brothels and pubs than you will find in any other city.

Remember dear reader, when entering here you will need to keep your wits about you, for many an unsavoury fellow will walk alongside you. A filthy urchin may alarm you by grasping your leg in the faint hope you are feeling generous enough to toss a coin.

But proceed fearlessly and look ahead. You will see that the street lanterns are now alight as we follow the hard-knuckled workers making their way through the dingiest cobbled alleyways, seeking only to fill their bellies with ale.

And here begins a tale inside one of Whitechapel’s fireside taverns.

Step inside this tavern awhile to witness the host of complex characters within. You will hear music, shrill laughs, and witness the devious antics of females sitting atop men’s laps at rickety tables. You may even witness a cat fight or two amongst the unwashed whores, as they battle each other for valuable custom from the slurring, inebriated men. 

You may too, if she happens to be checking upon her employees, meet Madame Davenport, the savvy yet heartless brothel-mistress who keeps organised her world of social outcasts and misfits.

If you can stay awhile into the early hours you will very likely stumble upon fifteen year old Catherine Bell who will arrive at a late hour, alone and afraid. Like you, she will feel somewhat repulsed to witness this decrepit scene within, but whilst you, dear reader, may close the pages of this book and return to a life of moderate comfort and social freedoms, she must remain here amongst the disease-infested scourge of society, to be lured upon a pitiful path where many desperate women have trodden before her.

The immoral path of a lower class whore.

Oh pity her if you must, but do not abandon her here for she is an intelligent girl beneath her innocent gaze and her life choices are few. Watch intently as she is groomed in the ways of seduction, for her very survival will depend on it, see how she learns the skilled game of pandering to men’s pleasures for a fee. But Catherine’s unblemished youth and beauty, whilst being a blessing, will also serve as her curse inside this popular tavern, for the seasoned old whores within will envy, despise and reject her.

Soon enough you will witness how her fortunes appear to rise tremendously when one middle class gentleman seeks her favours, if only for much darker ambitions than his pleasure alone.

But we shall leave them now to draw out their scenes of vulgarity, drama and misery in peace. Yes, come, let us step well away from these deliciously flawed and well-drawn characters inside the tavern, and return to the crusty fettering gutters outside.

But wait…

Be mindful that this is the year 1888. The year Jack the Ripper made famous his dark reign of slaughter. And yes, dear reader, I promise that if you trawl these streets with me long enough, you will undoubtedly discover him within these very pages lurking in and around the stinking mire of Whitechapel’s nest of rotten alleyways, weaving his way between the shadows of thieves, whores, drug gangs and many other irreputable sorts.

Take a gamble though if you will, and walk on with me to witness an empowering tale of jealousy, desperation, desire, fear, abortion, sexual debauchery and of course – murder. 

Do not flinch near the end of our journey however, for five women will soon be slaughtered and the man responsible will name himself ‘Jack The Ripper.’ He will embark on a bloody spree that will bury a gut-wrenching fear deep inside the bellies of every living whore.

He too might leave you pale and afraid.

You may wish to stop here, for the imagery he leaves behind is candid, brutal and all too strikingly real. But no, I urge you to continue, for ‘The Whitechapel Virgin,’ is a powerful and complex journey, evocative and gritty in its realism. A journey which hauls the past back to the present, for you to discover and enjoy from your own safe distance. Your patience and courage will be rewarded, for no other souls but ours will discover his identity, none other than you and I will unveil this truth, for the world will always marvel and wonder who he is…

So take the journey and see…

Historical Fiction Published Feb 2014

Get the Amazon Kindle Book

“Carla Acheson’s story takes you down the dark streets of Whitechapel, to a time when all was not as it seems, and an immense shadow was looming over the metropolis. The book is a real page turner, and one that grips the reader until the very end. An excellent addition to any shelf.”Mike Covell – Actor, TV Producer

“ACHESON HAS A GIFT FOR BEING ABLE TO BRING THE GRIT OF POVERTY TO LIFE…” – Rachel Malone, (Historical Novel Society.)

“A TREMENDOUSLY compelling story woven around the time of Jack the Ripper’s reign. The author has effectively raised from the dead the bitter voices of downtrodden prostitutes.” – (Metro MANIA)

“DARK, sensationally gripping read… true voyeurism into the Victorian seedy underworld.”  A N Hoyle – Historian

 

 

 

dreamsanddedications

The Last Gift Competition Giveaway

Thanks to the success of my first book Giveaway competition on Goodreads.com, a second will now run until February 05, 2013.

Over 500 people entered the previous book Giveaway which was an astounding amount. A Goodreads winner from Idaho received a free paperback copy.

All you have to do is click on enter and provide a mailing address to where you want the book to be delivered and that’s it!

The competition is open to participants in GB/CA/AU/US.

Good luck readers.

More:

Watch The Last Gift video interview here 

Read the reviews

 

 

 

dreamsanddedications

The Last Gift – Going back 150 years

Have a look at what readers are saying about The Last Gift here

Victorian mother and baby

Many friends ask me why I chose to write a book set in Victorian London. The answer is simple.I love all things Victorian. As a big fan of classic literature (which does not make me boring, old-fashioned or more intelligent) I would like to think it only enhances my knowledge and the culture of the period.

It took a six month research period into the eighteenth century before I was ready to sketch a storyline. I first thought about the theme I wanted to follow, and the message I really wished to portray. The book focuses on the battle of survival of the destitute. It encompasses the murkier aspects of Victorian life which today, many have neither heard of, nor have any reason to think about.

Setting the story 150 years ago within the slums of back street London, was always going to be tough writing. There is so much sensory misery to portray that it was difficult to sift through the important details, and yet still offer an accurate representation of the period. There was also the question of whether to use a more authentic prose, or contemporary?

In many of today’s period novels the language is simple and the preference of Editor’s for ease of reading. So I took a gamble here and kept my narrative, not quite ‘Dickensian,’ but more leaning towards the ‘flavour’ of the time. A good move or bad? Who knows. That really is how it wanted to be written. The prose happened naturally. So far it has yielded positive results.

When you begin to write in the first narrative perspective of a young Victorian girl, you find yourself compelled to drop all modern slang and phrasing. You articulate better. You substitute ‘don’t’ for ‘do not…’ some sentences become a little more florid and expression tilts heavily into emotional much more than practical. Maggie’s voice began to flow very naturally for the period. As I grew into the tale I became Maggie, sitting at a modern computer in 2012 telling my sorrowful tale back in 1866. This foray into the past and its paradox to life today, was hugely enlightening.

For a good while during my months of writing I sat with my shoulders back and head poised elegantly, my legs appropriately crossed, and my little finger annoyingly threatening to extend itself when I lifted my mug of tea.. all to the greatest amusement of my husband. Unfortunately, for a while, I also adopted some of the notoriously prudent attitudes towards the subject of sex: and well, that didn’t go down too well.

But moving on… keeping a period story as accurate as possible is paramount to its success. If Maggie were to apply for a position at HMV Music Store on her walkabouts through the centre of London, the story would fail dramatically. Remembering tiny details is also imperative. Getting ‘tripped up’ by readers on the inaccuracy of dates/times/places/events is something critics just love to do. And it happens to the best of published writers.

There is masses of research required into the entire history and background will never be written, but which the writer must know. If a lantern is switched on, were lanterns yet invented? Did they eat and drink from cups, mugs, plates or saucers? What did the destitute eat? How did characters speak? Were there any colloquial accents that the author could provide a little taste of in the dialogue? How simple was medical care? When did carriages become cars? And what of furnishings: garish or plain? Cotton or silk?

Once the setting and description is all good and done, there are the social and racial divisions, moral attitudes, the laws, where did people mostly work, how much did they earn? And on and on it goes until you find that you have to be quite the expert in the era.

The theme was easy to establish. I had watched so many BBC drama adaptations based on this period, all usually focusing on the life of the middle class girl either being swept off her feet by the local new dashing chap, or abandoning dreams of such, and aspiring to become a law-abiding maid, spinster, seamstress, governess. (Very few positions available here!) And I had to ask, where is the story about the  people in the slums? The religious corruption towards unwed mothers and their babies? The booming baby-farming business and the factory diseases.. etc?

Not many ever dared speak of these things. Charles Dickens’ himself, spent many years protesting with local governing bodies in the hope of providing improvement and reformation. But even he was often begged to remain quiet. This is because the poor were an embarrassment to society, and sadly, much of the middle to upper class didn’t care for them.

“The poorest slum dwellers are there for a God given reason, and we ought not to question it,” was the attitude of the time. They were stepped over and left to God’s fate.

In time,  improvements did come, but I realise that never had the division between ‘class’ been greater in British history than in Victoria’s reign. To this end, I felt I needed to select one of these slum-dwellers out of the past and give them a voice. And the voice really wanted to be heard! Even when I stopped a writing session Maggie’s voice would continue on. She would say..“What is the point of my having ambitions or dreams, if I could never achieve them? Do you, in your 21st century sumptuous bed, realise just how cold, hungry, and neglected I was?”

Maggie is six years old when her story begins, and through her eyes I attempt to show readers in 2012, what she witnessed, saw and felt in 1866… her grandmothers death beside her, her mother’s still born twins and the ongoing struggle to prevent her family from being sent to the workhouse. It was horrible. Depressing yes, miserable yes, but realistic? YES. These events were very real.

Despite the fact that the mortality rate was staggeringly high I led my heroine into a grand old age for the sake of a story. In reality however, so many families perished, ‘one by one they dropped like flies..’ Poor sanitation, disease and succumbing to the harsh elements were much more likely than reaching full adult-hood.

But in ‘The Last Gift,’ there is a happy ending, because happy endings result in happy readers. Mostly! At the end of the book, I provide a short reference to sources and links to the historical events and facts as they appeared in the book. If you choose to read it, you will discover some things either forgotten, or unknown, about one of the greatest and saddest periods of British history.

The Last Gift is now available on Amazon.com

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Click here for a chance to win a FREE Copy at GoodReads.com. Competition expires Feb 05, 2013