Lord Loveall needs a hug. As if his dying mother isn’t enough of a burden for him to handle, he’s also dealing with the death of his beloved sister, greedy relatives who want a piece of his fortune, and no wife or child to give the fortune to once he meets his demise. Oh, life is hard for a young 19th century lord.
Meanwhile on the outskirts of London, a young woman is with child…and is scared out of her mind. She gives birth in a rundown hospital and, to save her own skin, the nurse instructs a young boy by the name of Pharaoh to take the infant far away and dispose of it. Pharaoh follows orders and leaves the baby in a trash heap, certain to face death in the next hour.
It is here where this baby and the sad Lord Loveall meet. On his way back home, Lord Loveall sees the abandoned baby and takes it as a sign…he finally has someone to inherit his fortune!
He lovingly names the baby Rose and returns home to tell the family. He puts the new child in the arms of his dying mother and tells her that this is his daughter and she will be the next ruler of Love Hall. Before her death, Lady Loveall has a good laugh at her son, both for his stupidity in bringing this child home and his obvious lack of observation…for Rose is most definitely a boy.
And so begins the story of Lady Rose Loveall.
Despite the obvious confusion little Rose is bound to face when she realizes that she’s a he, the entire house abides by Lord Loveall’s dire conviction that he is raising a daughter. The pain of his sister’s death blinds him to see what Rose really is, for in his mental illness, he often believes that Rose is his young deceased sister, Delores.
Little Rose remains ignorant of her sexual ambiguity until her father’s death. Through a series of sexual questioning, encounters, and observations, Rose discovers why she has that “appendage” between her legs and why her best friend, Sarah, does not. What Rose does about this is something for the reader to discover…and what she learns about herself is the perfect ending to this rags-to-riches story.
Wesley Stace, the brilliant writer behind Misfortune, did such an eloquent job of exploring these themes of sexual identity, familial belonging, and self-awakening. The reader can’t help but feel for Rose as she learns about why she was raised this way, what makes her so special and why it’s so crucial that she stay true to herself.
Misfortune is a meaty book, about 530 pages of text…but with a lovable cast of characters and a storyline that almost never fails to deliver, Misfortune is a great read. If you’re a fan of Charles Dickens, Ed Wood, or think a novel about Ed Wood written by Charles Dickens might be interesting, you’re sure to adore Misfortune. 🙂
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Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.