A "propulsive" historical set among the world of early 19th c. female pugilists - The Fair Fight * * by first-time author Anna Freeman has been widely compared to The Crimson Petal and the White. It is a "raucous, intoxicating tale of courage, and self-reinvention..."
Ruth Downs was considered too unattractive to serve the clientele of the "the convent", a Bristol brothel where she was born and raised. She was saved from a life of drudgery by a natural scrappiness, witnessed in a cat-fight by George Dryer who became her patron as a professional pugilist.
Scarred by smallpox, manor-born Charlotte Sinclair, trapped in twisted power games with her scoundrel of a brother who married her off to a mean and neglectful husband, was desperate for an escape.
When the two women met, it was who Charlotte presented Ruth with an extraordinary proposition.
Drawn from historical real-life and fictional (see Author's note) "(g)amblers, drinkers, fighters, hookers; the fancy, the rowdy, the rude—Freeman does a wonderful job of spinning this furious yarn, in which the fury of women plays the lead role. Great characters and wild turns of events make this book a knockout."
The New York Times praised that The Fair Fight "breathes, shouts and swears, confident in its form and bold as brass in its execution." A new voice to watch for fans of Sarah Water's.
* * = 2 starred reviews