5 Sep 2012

A Prostitute, A Highwayman and A Pirate Walks into a Bar...

I have officially become a convert to the fandom of Erica Jong. Before I brought "Fear of Flying" with me no holiday and realised that Jong is a genius, I was terribly prejudiced and sure that she was one of those horribly 1970's shouting feminist, burning bras and condemning the use of mascara. How very wrong I was, this is one cool woman! I love her books and currently, I'm working my way through her many great novels.

On the menu this weekend was "Fanny", a novel that sounds like it was a bit of project for Jong. This is not just any old novel, it is a novel published in the 1980s but written 18th century style yet with a very modern heroine.

Fanny Hackabout-Jones is a fierce young woman who has to go through an awful lot at a terribly young age.
Orphaned at birth, she was left in the care of Lord and Lady Bellars at Lymeworth and grew up as a child of the household. The rakish Lord Bellars is never at home, preferring the parties and women of London but when he returns to Lymeworth after a two-year long absence, he falls violently in lust with the beautiful 17-year old Fanny. All red hair, white skin and large bosom, the beauty is both Fanny's best asset but also her downfall. Raped by her stepfather, she flees Lymeworth to seek her fortune in London, hoping to make it as a female bard, a writer. Quite a dream for a girl of her age and her time and as in all good fairytales, she has to go through an awful lot of ... well ... awful stuff before she can fulfill her destiny.
On her way to London she takes part in a witches' ritual, loses a close friend and is robbed by highwaymen who abduct her. 
Eventually she makes it to London where she has to make a living in the oldest way possible... From there her adventures become more and more daring and dangerous and along the way she meets secret societies, sadistic sea captains and honourable pirates. 

This is a romp through another time. Full of rump. Like a Georgette Heyer with more sex and more drama. The plot is not believable at all but that's the point - it's not about the plot, it's about the spirit. And if there's something that Fanny is full of, it's spirit. She's a feisty young lady with plenty of courage and her story is well worth a read. 

Read it if: You like your women like you like your chili pepper: redheaded, fiery and full of power. 


  1. It's very interesting to see a book whose events are unbelievable succeed. I always thought readers can't relate to the story if said story wasn't logical, but, considering this book, maybe they can. Maybe what they really scrutinize is the host of characters, not the plot...I'll definitely have to check this book out!

  2. It's quite special because it is a pastiche but with great characters, something not often encountered. Very worth a try.