AN ALMOND FOR A PARROT Eighteenth century excess
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”.