Review: Among the Fallen

Title: Among the Fallen
Author: Virginia Frances Schwartz
Release date: October 8th, 2019
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

“Marriage alone offers shelter for women; it turns us into statues upon a shelf, like Mrs. Dickens. Yet Mr. Dickens goes where he pleases and does as he wishes.”

This was a heartbreakingly powerful read about fallen women in Victorian London. The story follows Orpha, who begins the book in a prison for juvenile women who’ve committed crimes. Many women had resorted to prostitution or thievery to survive; many girls fell into situations that brought them to this prison, and their reputation would prevent them from living the typical life a woman of Victorian London would. Needless to say, life sucked for women during this era. They lived within strict confines, and to stray would deem one a fallen woman.

Anyway, this was great. Charles Dickens is a main character, and finds women in unfortunate circumstances and brings them to a home for a second chance. They go to a place to learn, and they have the opportunity to find a calling overseas, rather than be turned back to the streets and resort to crime again.

There was something unsettling about reading Orpha’s story where Dickens has the girls “confess” their sins/stories to him, in order for them to move on. Orpha looks up to Dickens as a writer and inspiration, but there’s nuance in how the girls rely on a man, who also falls to “sinful” ways, but yet does not suffer the same consequences a woman does. There’s a critique of how society functions this way, and while the story takes place in the 1850s, it still holds meaning in today’s society.

What I really loved about this book was the historical detail it took in. I’ve studied quite a bit of Victorian literature, and specifically studied Victorian “underworlds” so this was a really interesting story to dive into. I’d highly urge readers to read the Author’s Note at the end, because it calls into account all the historical elements used to bring this story to life. This story is only partially fiction, while the rest remains a recreation of real events and characters.

I had some trouble getting totally invested at times, but I enjoyed this thoroughly overall.

Overall, I’d recommend this book for a Victorian lover, or someone looking to get their first glimpse into what this time was like.

*Thanks to Penguin Teen Canada for sending me a copy for an honest review!*

You can order this book using my affiliate link to help me receive a small commission!


3 thoughts on “Review: Among the Fallen”

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