As part of the Fiction Uncovered 2011 promotion, we worked with The Reading Agency to reach reading groups across the UK. Eight selected reading groups were given one of the Fiction Uncovered titles to read, and we’re delighted that they’ve been able to feed back their thoughts. Here, London’s Brixton Library reading group tell us what they thought about Robert Edric’s The London Satyr.
‘The London Satyr is narrated by Charles Webster, a poor photographer employed by the Lyceum Theatre. His impoverished state, financially but also emotionally since the death of one of his two daughters, has made Webster vulnerable to the approaches of Marlow, an underworld figure, and so Webster misuses his employment to supply theatre costumes to Marlow for his pornographic photographs. However, once under the control of Marlow, Webster finds it impossible to extract himself from the former’s control and threat.
‘Although suspicions are already raised for the theatre manager, the situation does not reach its climax until a member of the aristocracy murders a young girl to gratify his sexual desires, and police and the London Vigilance Committee start their investigations. Edric’s novel shows attitudes don’t change, whatever the era. The public is always hungry for an exposition of perversity and a display of outrage.
‘The opening of the book was excellent, literally being taken through the alleys and courts of Soho into the heart of the story. This is a world of shadows, the shadows of dead children, the shadowy darkened rooms of the séance and the clubs to the photographers’ dark rooms with their images of ghost-like people. Webster’s involvement in the theatre world is brought boldly to life with references to his employment with the very real and renowned Henry Irving and Bram Stoker.
‘The narrative threads of this novel—the loss of a favourite daughter, Mrs Webster’s newfound work as a spiritualist medium, Webster’s sideline in the dark and nefarious world of pornography, nuanced domestic dynamics and the murder of a child—are all interwoven to create a believable and credible story. An evocative, compelling glimpse into the underworld of Victorian respectability, morality and society.’
Robert Edric on The London Satyr.
Robert Edric reads from The London Satyr.
Giles Foden on Robert Edric’s The London Satyr.