This is Harper’s first foray into historical fiction after two contemporary crime novels. She has that rare knack of making the reader believe she was there, stylus in hand, chronicling what she witnessed. Vivid, wise and unflinching, this is a triumph.
A chance encounter with a wealthy man, together with her own resourcefulness, offer a slim chance of freedom. Direct in both its language and its presentation of life in the brothel, Harper’s narrative never romanticises the exploitation Amara suffers, but it leads eventually to a kind of painful redemption.