Publisher: Wiedenfeld And Nicolson
Publication Date: 15th November 2018
My mum always said, a fistful of rings is as good as a knuckleduster
I saw this book advertised in the Orion catalogue that I was given at an Orion Showcase event in Manchester. I sent a couple of cheeky emails, put the ‘feelers’ out (see, I’m talking in gang speak already!) and the lovely Poppy Stimpson sorted me right ahhht with a copy.
London 1952 and a great smog is descending. Something far worse than a typical fog or ‘peasouper’. 17 year old Florrie Palmer waits in her mother’s cousins house for her mother Ruby to come home. Released from Holloway prison after serving time. All The Cutter gang tend to serve time during their lives.
But Florrie is growing tired of the gang way of life, particularly since embarking on a relationship with her second cousin, Ted. However, leaving a gang just doesn’t come that easy. Nobody gets to walk away from The Cutters without consequences. Will Florrie have to make the ultimate choice between gang loyalties and love? Or will Ted have to stop turning a blind eye and get far more involved in gang life than he ever anticipated?
Told over a 5 day period, set under a claustrophobic heaviness of cloying, choking, poisonous fog this story is action packed.
The descriptions of the smog and the attention to detail regarding this are brilliant. The Great Smog was actually an event that happened in London in December 1952 when an anticyclone pushed down all the industrial smoke and filth in the air. The fog in this book is almost like a character in itself. It has a life of its own.
Talking of characters, the ones in this story are larger than life! Vivid, three dimensional fully formed characters. The women in The Cutters gang are all fascinating! Colourful and vibrant in their own ways. I can just imagine them parading around in their ill gotten gains, stolen furs, opulent jewels, fancy perfume. They just jump right off the page!
These women are strong, gutsy, conniving in the most compelling way. Alright, they are no angels, nothing could be further from the truth. They’ve done some dastardly deeds but I adored them all.
At a time when men were still recovering from the effects of the war, these women had to step up and provide for their families. Stick together and prove that The Cutter women would always come out on top.
It’s pretty safe to say I really enjoyed this book. It’s also safe to say that the authors notes at the end were just as fascinating as the actual story. The Cutter gang are based on a real gang called The Forty Elephants. A female gang from Elephant And Castle who operated from the 1890’s until around the 1960’s. There are some other books mentioned which the author got her inspiration from and I most certainly will be checking them out.
A thoroughly enjoyable read indeed. I would highly recommend it! Thank you as always to the publisher for the review copy.
See you all soon.
Bookish Chat xxx