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Book Review: Another Twist in the Tale by Catherine Bruton


'You have heard, no doubt, the tale of Master Oliver Twist - that rags-to-riches boy; the parish orphan who became heir to the Brownlow fortune. But what few know is that was a second Twist - a girl, brought into this world moments ahead of her brother.

This is the story of Twill Twist - and her journey through the gambling dens and workhouses of London, as she attempts to make a life for herself, rescue her friends, and uncover the mystery of her past - while meeting some familiar faces along the way...

Be prepared to lose yourself completely in Catherine Bruton’s vividly conjured vision of Dickens’ London; the sights, the sounds, the smells; the strange and unseemly characters hiding in darkened doorways; a permeating sense of unease, of something dangerous lurking just out of sight through the smog.

A fascinating feminist take on the hardships of life for Victorian girls and women in a world that valued boys far more highly, this story will introduce you to a vibrant cast of strong-minded, resourceful, ambitious and quick-witted girls and women, striving to overcome their unfair disadvantage and fighting for their place in the world.'

Book Review:

Twill Twist was born a healthy young girl, unlike her sickly twin brother Oliver - but, because of the ways of Victorian society, Twill was dumped by a river whilst Oliver was taken into the orphanage. Young girls were not paid well compared to young boys, and so girls were considered a burden to a household. However, due to her bountiful screaming Twill is found and taken in by Baggage Jones, a young girl of 14 named after a word meaning 'burden'.

We begin the book with Baggage Jones taking care of Twill, raising Twill with the love Baggage had never been given. Throughout the book we come across many unloving, unforgiving people who see Twill as a burden like Baggage Jones, which is what makes Baggage's love for Twill so incredibly special. Baggage is only a child with not a penny to her name and lives under the eye of the terrible Mrs Spanks, and yet she is the only one out of all the passersby that shows concern for baby Twill. Through this we see very early on just how brainwashed society was at the time to believe that girls were useless simply because they did not 'earn the same keep' as boys, which was only the case because of an incredibly sexist, incredibly large and unjust paygap.

13 years into the future, Twill's life and her brother's finally start to intertwine as we meet the familiar Artful Dodger and Fagin. At this point in time Oliver is relishing his new riches whilst Twill is having to make a living for herself in a gambling house, albeit one where she is much loved. Eventually Twill is forced to flee the house due to the wicked Madam Manzoni, where a life of pickpocketing awaits her. Along the way Twill realises that Fagin's Boys are not all they are cracked up to be, as they use to their advantage how badly the young girls of the street are treated. The themes are often quite grim, but Bruton deals with them in a very Dickensian fashion which allows the material to be enjoyable and adventurous as well as vulnerable and heart-wrenching. A great read for anyone familiar with Oliver Twist.

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