AN AL­MOND FOR A PAR­ROT Eigh­teenth cen­tury ex­cess

SFX - - Reviews -

re­leased OUT NOW! 400 pages | Hard­back/ebook Au­thor Wray de­laney Pub­lisher HQ, HarperCollins

“Pi­caresque” is the term for a type of story that fo­cuses on a sin­gle char­ac­ter’s jour­ney from in­no­cence to ex­pe­ri­ence. Per­haps un­sur­pris­ingly, given that this genre’s hey­day was in the lib­er­tine 18th cen­tury, it has a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing a bit on the raunchy side.

Any doubts as to which side of the in­no­cence/ex­pe­ri­ence fence An Al­mond… might fall are washed away by an early, know­ing ref­er­ence to Moll Flan­ders. Wray De­laney goes all out for her beau­ti­fully-re­alised Ge­or­gian set­ting, and dec­o­rates it, glee­fully, with great swathes of bed­room ac­tion for plucky pro­tag­o­nist Tully True­good, a ma­gi­cian’s ap­pren­tice/ cour­te­san who can see ghosts. The re­sult is a slightly un­holy cross be­tween Pretty Woman and the more sub­ver­sive de­lights of An­gela Carter’s Nights At The Cir­cus.

Al­mond is much more bawdy than erotic – we stopped count­ing when the num­ber of eu­phemisms for male gen­i­talia reached dou­ble fig­ures – and while this light­ness of touch may be an in­ten­tional re­flec­tion of the pe­riod’s lit­er­a­ture, the smut and ro­mance both sit un­easily, tonally speak­ing, along­side grim­ier plot el­e­ments like forced mar­riage, rape and mur­der. Nic Clarke

Used by var­i­ous Ja­cobean drama­tists, the phrase “an al­mond for a par­rot” means “silly, mean­ing­less prat­tle”.

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