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Lindsey's Literary Leanings

Book Reviews - Contemporary Fiction / Biographies / Autobiographies

  • Lindsey Skelton-Smith

Ellie and The Nubb Lane Players (Author: John Guthrie)


Ella and the Nubb Lane Players (Book Cover)

Genre: Historical Fiction


Ellie & The Nubb Lane Players by John Guthrie, Author

Ellie Fogg is just nine years of age & lives with her mother. Her father has been 'detained' for a crime that he hadn't intended to commit & they are amongst the poorest of the poor. Mrs Fogg works in a cotton mill. Despite Ellie's insistence that she could do the same, her mother refuses to allow her daughter to work there too, due to the dangers involved.


When the struggling mother is faced with a dilemma of bringing her little girl up amongst misery & poverty or, 'selling' her, albeit temporarily, to the slippery Mr Henty who turns up on her doorstep wielding the dubious promise of providing Ellie with better living conditions & start in life. Tempted by the offer of five shillings & the burden of only having herself to feed & clothe, will she send her only daughter off to an unknown fate? How will Ellie cope with her new life & who will be there for her....enter, The Nubb Lane Players...

Again, with all the novels that I choose to read, I was attracted to the front cover, a little girl stood on a street in dirty clothing, a waif & stray - & was intrigued by her story.


Ellie is extremely savvy, willful & spirited, & appears to have a very well developed vocabulary for such a young person, but then remembering the Artful Dodger in Dickens 'Oliver' whom Ellie reminds me of, & also the traumatic experiences that she encounters that must have forced her to become wise beyond her years it is hardly surprising. Also, bearing in mind that she may be telling her tale retrospectively, & some years later. She is an extremely likeable, believable character as any known historical character in history, the reader feels compelled to root for Ellie through her many trials & tribulations.


When she is taken prisoner by the evil & depraved Mr Pendlebury I was shouting at the book, willing her to get out of the shop whilst she had the chance, & her urge (which she acted on) to slam the door on her way out & tease the shop keeper through the window as he is impeded by a customer from coming after her, made me feel victorious for her.


I particularly like the parts of the narrative where she addresses the reader to explain why the more explicit & harrowing parts of the plot are not explained in more graphic detail, only touched upon & left more to the imagination. I was glad that the author chose to handle the criminal activity of the men at 'Laburnams' in this way.


To balance this, there are a number of amusing scenarios with Ellie's quick thinking & her cheeky streetwise demeanour that she very quickly develops. Towards the end of the novel, the scene where the 'bad men' are brought to 'justice' by The Nubb Street Players & their supporters, while farcical, was very engaging & comical.


All the characters, plot & descriptions of the events taking place, were written in a way that felt so tangible that I had no problem with imagining any of it as I was reading. I would love to read a sequel that explores how Ellie's life has progressed in her later years. Thank you John.

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