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The Women of Nell Gwynne's

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Lady Beatrice was the proper British daughter of a proper British soldier, until tragedy struck and sent her home to walk the streets of early-Victorian London. But Lady Beatrice is no ordinary whore, and is soon recruited to join an underground establishment known as Nell Gwynne's. Nell Gwynne's is far more than simply the finest and most exclusive brothel in Whitehall; i Lady Beatrice was the proper British daughter of a proper British soldier, until tragedy struck and sent her home to walk the streets of early-Victorian London. But Lady Beatrice is no ordinary whore, and is soon recruited to join an underground establishment known as Nell Gwynne's. Nell Gwynne's is far more than simply the finest and most exclusive brothel in Whitehall; it is in fact the sister organization to the Gentlemen's Speculative Society, that 19th-century predecessor to a certain Company... and when a member of the Society goes missing on a peculiar assignment, it's up to Lady Beatrice and her sister harlots to investigate.


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Lady Beatrice was the proper British daughter of a proper British soldier, until tragedy struck and sent her home to walk the streets of early-Victorian London. But Lady Beatrice is no ordinary whore, and is soon recruited to join an underground establishment known as Nell Gwynne's. Nell Gwynne's is far more than simply the finest and most exclusive brothel in Whitehall; i Lady Beatrice was the proper British daughter of a proper British soldier, until tragedy struck and sent her home to walk the streets of early-Victorian London. But Lady Beatrice is no ordinary whore, and is soon recruited to join an underground establishment known as Nell Gwynne's. Nell Gwynne's is far more than simply the finest and most exclusive brothel in Whitehall; it is in fact the sister organization to the Gentlemen's Speculative Society, that 19th-century predecessor to a certain Company... and when a member of the Society goes missing on a peculiar assignment, it's up to Lady Beatrice and her sister harlots to investigate.

30 review for The Women of Nell Gwynne's

  1. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    This was nominated for a Nebula and a Hugo? 2010 mustn't have been a strong year for novellas. The "good stuff" in "The Women of Nell Gwynne's" is all in the first third or so, as we're introduced to Lady Beatrice's background, her compatriots at Nell Gwynne's, and the gadgets made by the Scientific Society. The rest of it's a somewhat haphazard, sometimes funny mystery-adventure story that introduces more gadgets and brings a new character into the Society. It mostly fizzled for me, especially t This was nominated for a Nebula and a Hugo? 2010 mustn't have been a strong year for novellas. The "good stuff" in "The Women of Nell Gwynne's" is all in the first third or so, as we're introduced to Lady Beatrice's background, her compatriots at Nell Gwynne's, and the gadgets made by the Scientific Society. The rest of it's a somewhat haphazard, sometimes funny mystery-adventure story that introduces more gadgets and brings a new character into the Society. It mostly fizzled for me, especially the ending, which was rushed and left a lot of loose ends. For example, I'd like to have known more about the relationship between (view spoiler)[Lord Basmond and his butler Pilkins, that would make the latter publically burst into tears when his master died. (hide spoiler)] . I suspect this wasn't a great selection for a first read of Baker's work. I have the first Company novel, and am willing to give her a second chance with a longer work.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Shellie (Layers of Thought)

    Original review posted on Layers of Thought. A steam punk novella which won a 2009 Nebula award. It has a bit of a satirical twist, where the women of this “special organization” help with the fight against evil in their special and socially unaccepted way. About: “The women of Nell Gwynne’s” is set in an alternative England where steam has a decidedly different technological aspect than the standard historical Victorian era model; this is definitely steam punk. The unique aspect of the story is t Original review posted on Layers of Thought. A steam punk novella which won a 2009 Nebula award. It has a bit of a satirical twist, where the women of this “special organization” help with the fight against evil in their special and socially unaccepted way. About: “The women of Nell Gwynne’s” is set in an alternative England where steam has a decidedly different technological aspect than the standard historical Victorian era model; this is definitely steam punk. The unique aspect of the story is the women. As high class call girls, each of these special women has been selected by the madam for their strength, feistiness and other special talents - all which help them in their fight against the darker aspects of their time. As you might imagine, their main way of ascertaining secret information is especially intriguing, and revolves around the high-standing men who possess it being in the awkward and vulnerable position of having “their pants around their ankles”. Thoughts: I completely enjoyed this short novel and was immersed in it. A key to Kage Baker’s talents is that the novella is a page turner that took me on a trip into an alternative Victorian era - it included some fictional technological inventions which combined to create a story that anyone interested in steam punk should read. It was dryly funny too. I understand from my digging around for information on the author and the back story that she had a cutting wit and sense of humor; and it shows. I giggled a lot. Although done tastefully it’s important to mention that since the story is about “ladies of the night” there are some interesting sexual involvements, so I consider parts of this story to be light erotica. Readers bothered by this kind of read should give the story a miss. But it is highly recommended for all steam punk fans and anyone interested in a fun read. It’s a 4.5 stars and darn near a 5 in my opinion. I will be reading a lot more by this author, which is heartbreaking since her books are numbered, considering her death prior to winning the Nebula for this book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kara

    This one is strictly for die hard Company fans, and even then, despite this being a novella about a brothel, you're going to be left unsatisfied. Most of Kage Baker's Company stories - like the novel Sky Coyote, the novella Empress of Mars, or the short story Hellfire at Twlight, can easily be read as stand alone works and much enjoyed even if you aren't familiar with her whole Company universe. Here, if you haven't read just about all her other works that, combined, describe Dr. Zeus, the Gentlem This one is strictly for die hard Company fans, and even then, despite this being a novella about a brothel, you're going to be left unsatisfied. Most of Kage Baker's Company stories - like the novel Sky Coyote, the novella Empress of Mars, or the short story Hellfire at Twlight, can easily be read as stand alone works and much enjoyed even if you aren't familiar with her whole Company universe. Here, if you haven't read just about all her other works that, combined, describe Dr. Zeus, the Gentleman's Speculative, the spies, the double-double agents, the third branch of humanoid species, and all the behind the scenes technology her characters use and have access to, you are going to be pretty lost here. If you have read all her other Company stuff, you are going to be disappointed not to see more of the Gentlemen and how they work with Dr Zeus, and not a single guest star appearance by any of her canon characters. The book ends very quickly with no real resolution. My only hope is this means she intends to write more about Nell Gwynne's, since she will often completely wrap up minor characters whose stories are finished. Here, the story just sort of... stops. Also, and this is not the author's fault, the price of the book is too high, the print run was too low, and the "illustrations" were a) historical inaccurate, and b) not enough to qualify as calling the book "illustrated." A repeated chapter break image is not an illustration. All of that said, the main character represents a wonderful revenge fantasy as Kage Baker has her do exactly what we've always wished damsel in distress would do, namely, rescue themselves, kick ass, and tell those who complain where to shove it. No white knights here! I found the beginning of the story the best part of the story - sort of an R rated A Little Princess meets Operation Dessert Storm meets Red Sonja (without Ahhnald). Kage Baker gets the history just right, reminding her readers that western solders caught in a middle east quagmire is nothing new.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Meagan

    This short novel tells the story of Lady Beatrice, a "fallen" aristocrat of Queen Victoria's England and one of the women of the brothel called Nell Gwynne's. Lady Beatrice's father was killed in Afghanistan, and while she was trying to flee the country and return to England Lady Beatrice was raped. Unfortunately, this state of affairs was unacceptable to her genteel mother and Beatrice was left to the streets to fend for herself as a street prostitute while the rest of society was led to consid This short novel tells the story of Lady Beatrice, a "fallen" aristocrat of Queen Victoria's England and one of the women of the brothel called Nell Gwynne's. Lady Beatrice's father was killed in Afghanistan, and while she was trying to flee the country and return to England Lady Beatrice was raped. Unfortunately, this state of affairs was unacceptable to her genteel mother and Beatrice was left to the streets to fend for herself as a street prostitute while the rest of society was led to consider her honorably dead. Her aristocratic background and eminently practical outlook bring her to the attention of the brothel Nell Gwynne's, which is actually a front for a government-funded espionage outfit. Due to the nature of the ladies' work the book does sometimes deal with explicit themes, although it never feels graphic or unnecessary. (Although I'm extremely difficult to shock.) The plot itself was interesting and original, and even though the ending felt a bit rushed I left feeling satisfied. This steampunk novella was quick and entertaining, and while it didn't blow my mind it did intrigue me enough to interest me in Kage Baker's other work. I have the feeling that this book would have meant a lot more to me if I were more familiar with her other books.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Wealhtheow

    Courageous and attractive, Lady Beatrice is the much-admired daughter of her soldier papa. She impetuously follows him to his latest post--only to realize that he, and everyone else at the encampment, will shortly be killed. She manages to rescue herself from the carnage, but at the expense of her innocence. Too damaged to be considered genteel any longer, too practical to die tragically in the gutter, Lady Beatrice decides to turn her disgrace into an asset. She becomes an excellent prostitute- Courageous and attractive, Lady Beatrice is the much-admired daughter of her soldier papa. She impetuously follows him to his latest post--only to realize that he, and everyone else at the encampment, will shortly be killed. She manages to rescue herself from the carnage, but at the expense of her innocence. Too damaged to be considered genteel any longer, too practical to die tragically in the gutter, Lady Beatrice decides to turn her disgrace into an asset. She becomes an excellent prostitute--but at Nell Gwynne's, she becomes an even better spy. This tale is set in the Company series, but it's enjoyable even without all that backstory. Lady Beatrice is a wonderful, believeable character, and her fellow whores are interesting without being caricatures. The plot itself is too rushed, and there wasn't any resolution--this feels like the opening to a novel, rather than a novella. Sadly, Kage Baker's untimely death this year means we'll never see what further adventures Lady Beatrice might have had.

  6. 5 out of 5

    ᴥ Irena ᴥ

    Lady Beatrice had a bad luck of losing her father, being kidnapped and raped, becoming a killer and being denied any connection to her mother and sisters. She did the only thing she could. She started streetwalking, but her father's friend sent Mrs. Corvey to offer her a job and a different way of using her assets. "You and I both know how little it takes to ruin a girl, when a man can make the same mistakes and the world smiles indulgently at him. Wouldn't you like to make the world more just Lady Beatrice had a bad luck of losing her father, being kidnapped and raped, becoming a killer and being denied any connection to her mother and sisters. She did the only thing she could. She started streetwalking, but her father's friend sent Mrs. Corvey to offer her a job and a different way of using her assets. "You and I both know how little it takes to ruin a girl, when a man can make the same mistakes and the world smiles indulgently at him. Wouldn't you like to make the world more just?" She accepted, of course. Then comes a part of the book where the importance of their spying is explained and the last part of the book is about five of them going to a party and trying to find a missing agent. My problem with this story is that I couldn't connect with the main character at all. She is like a robot. It's like reading a list of what she did: this happened to her, then she did this, then this happened and she did that and so on. The first sentence I wrote is a good example how it all looked to me. I loved the idea of spy-prostitutes cooperating with a society of engineers though.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jacqie

    I'm starting to understand the point of novellas. I can read one in an hour or two and I've actually finished a book! My reading time seems to be getting more limited, and sadly, the idea of a nice long book fills me with frustration as much as anticipation these days. It just seems to take so long to find the time to complete a doorstop book, as good as it may be. So anyway, here's one from the late great Kage Baker. It's two short stories put together, really. The second one seemed a bit rushed I'm starting to understand the point of novellas. I can read one in an hour or two and I've actually finished a book! My reading time seems to be getting more limited, and sadly, the idea of a nice long book fills me with frustration as much as anticipation these days. It just seems to take so long to find the time to complete a doorstop book, as good as it may be. So anyway, here's one from the late great Kage Baker. It's two short stories put together, really. The second one seemed a bit rushed, and didn't really have a satisfying payoff. I enjoyed the first one, though. I like "woman of steel" characters like Lady Beatrice, and it was entertaining to see the ladies at their spying. One caveat- this is not likely to make much sense to those who've never read a Company book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    Very sparse writing, the story was told almost journalistically. Is that a word? I liked the idea of a troupe of spunky whores who tease state secrets out of their johns while doing their job. The madame is fabulous! She sells the secrets to a secret society who outfits her with fancy James-Bond-esque gadgets for spying. Very short little romp.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mir

    This felt more like the first third+summary of the end of a full-length novel than a novella. The overall background, streampunk elements, and plot were quite interesting, but not fleshed out enough. Only the most important couple of characters get any development, and more space is spent setting things up than on the actual story. But it was still an enjoyable quick read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Stacey

    Liked the concept, but none of the characters really had much development, and I constantly had to pause and remind myself who was who. I suspect I'd like the full-length novels better, or else that reading the other Company Series installments would flesh things out a bit more to my liking. Liked the concept, but none of the characters really had much development, and I constantly had to pause and remind myself who was who. I suspect I'd like the full-length novels better, or else that reading the other Company Series installments would flesh things out a bit more to my liking.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    Entertaining steampunk tale about the secret agent activities of a group of Victorian prostitutes. I haven't read much Baker, but this makes for an interesting introduction. Entertaining steampunk tale about the secret agent activities of a group of Victorian prostitutes. I haven't read much Baker, but this makes for an interesting introduction.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Caty

    Perfect in its brevity and whimsy. I mean, I can never say the following phrase enough: steampunk hooker secret agents, ftw

  13. 4 out of 5

    Craig Childs

    Lady Beatrice is the "proper British daughter of a proper British soldier" but with a decidedly improper tomboy attitude. After her father is murdered at the Khyber Pass in 1834, Beatrice is raped by Afghan rebels and fights her way back to civilization. No longer considered suitable for marriage, she is forced to become a prostitute on the streets of London to survive. Her beauty, bravery, and keen intelligence attract the attention of an exclusive brothel known only by a select few. It is reac Lady Beatrice is the "proper British daughter of a proper British soldier" but with a decidedly improper tomboy attitude. After her father is murdered at the Khyber Pass in 1834, Beatrice is raped by Afghan rebels and fights her way back to civilization. No longer considered suitable for marriage, she is forced to become a prostitute on the streets of London to survive. Her beauty, bravery, and keen intelligence attract the attention of an exclusive brothel known only by a select few. It is reached by means of a tunnel beneath the famous Nell Gwynne tavern. In addition to entertaining powerful men, her real job is to act as a spy for the Gentlemen's Speculative Society, which sends her on various missions of espionage and outfits her with outlandish futuristic technology. Her first mission is to entertain a clandestine group of international millionaires who are bidding on a new levitation device that could tip the global balance of power against the British Empire… This fast-paced, light-hearted steampunk adventure story was awarded a Nebula for Best Novella of 2010. It can be read as a standalone work, but it ties into Kage Baker's best known series. The GSS is understood to be the historical precursor to Dr. Zeus Inc., a 24th century outfit which uses time travel and immortality to save valuable artifacts from the past. Known as simply as The Company, it is the subject of 10 of Baker's novels and many of her short stories. Baker also wrote two direct sequels to this book: the short story "The Bohemian Astrobleme" and the full-length novel Nell Gwynne's On Land and At Sea.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kara Babcock

    I love Regency and Victorian fiction. In those halcyon days of a declining empire, men and women of rank fused scientific exploration with military daring. The blank spaces on the map were shrinking every day, and as such, this age of exploration and adventure was also an age of introspection. Strict notions of propriety and visible class barriers contributed to meditations on what makes one human, on the roles of birth and upbringing in the development of a person, and the roles of gender and s I love Regency and Victorian fiction. In those halcyon days of a declining empire, men and women of rank fused scientific exploration with military daring. The blank spaces on the map were shrinking every day, and as such, this age of exploration and adventure was also an age of introspection. Strict notions of propriety and visible class barriers contributed to meditations on what makes one human, on the roles of birth and upbringing in the development of a person, and the roles of gender and sex. Some of the best literature of the English language came from the 19th century. So I love when contemporary authors set books in 19th-century England and then imitate the prose style of the period. The Women of Nell Gwynne's is a great example of such a book, thanks to Kage Baker's captivating style. But why should you take my word for it? Here's an example: A lengthy and painful discussion followed. It lasted through tea and dinner. It was revealed to Lady Beatrice that, though she had been sincerely mourned when Mamma had been under the impression she was dead, her unexpected return to life was something more than inconvenient. Had she never considered the disgrace she would inflict upon her family by returning, after all that had happened to her? What were all Aunt Harriet's neighbors to think? Baker takes the propriety so valuable to Victorians to an absurd length—although, at the same time, observes that this situation is not too far from realistic. Having returned from the dead, so to speak, but much tarnished in body and spirit, Lady Beatrice has two prospects. She could enter a convent: Whereupon Uncle Frederick, his face black with rage, rose from the table (the servants were in the act of serving the fish course) and told Lady Beatrice that she would be permitted to spend the night under his roof, for her Mamma’s sake, but in the morning he was personally taking her to the 
nearest convent. At this point Aunt Harriet pointed out that the nearest convent was in France, and he would be obliged to drive all day and hire passage on a boat, which hardly seemed respectable. Uncle Frederick shouted that he didn’t give a damn. Mamma fainted once more. Beatrice chooses to prostitute herself instead; she becomes, to use the vernacular, a "fallen woman." Baker manages to establish Beatrice as a very broken yet strong woman with all the deftness such issues require while simultaneously keeping the atmosphere of the story light, drôle. As Beatrice remarks to a gentleman who recognizes her as her father's daughter, no one deserves ill or good fortune—in other words, sometimes bad things happen to good people, and society isn't always equipped to deal with it. Beatrice can hide, retreat, or she can steel herself to the task of living, however difficult it may be. Fortunately, Beatrice's unique experiences make her perfect for a job at Nell Gwynne's, a brothel run by the ostensibly blind Mrs. Corvey. Nell Gwynne's is the ultimate set piece in Baker's reversal of our Victorian expectations. Although a genuine house of ill repute, Nell Gwynne's is exclusive, invitation-only, and services only high-ranking officials and statesmen. It is actually a front for a secret society of innovators, who often find they need information from or leverage over certain men. Beatrice and her colleagues are more than whores, then, they are spies. And for Beatrice's inaugural mission, she and three other prostitute-spies attend a private function of Lord Basmond's in order to discover the nature of a device he's auctioning to the highest bidder. The plot of The Women of Nell Gwynne's is actually very thin, and at times it stretches beyond its capacity. There are a few loose ends never satisfactorily explained. Firstly, who was Hindley? It seems obvious that he is the illegitimate child, who ostensibly died, of Lord Basmond. Even so, that does not explain Hindley's genius. Secondly, the murder of Lord Basmond and its resolution were not very impressive. I do not think that was Baker's intention, because she never gives us time to get acquainted with the potential suspects. And the mysteries we do get, namely Basmond's miraculous anti-gravity device, are never very suspenseful. When are our protagonists ever in danger? Mrs. Corvey goes wandering into the villain's secret lair, even rescues a protégé, all without so much as an alarm sounded or a guard alerted—surely Basmond could hire some expendable minions. Baker handily foreshadows Mrs. Corvey's use of her brass oculars, and draws attention to the irony that all of the antagonists assume she's blind when, in fact, she can see better than they. But it's clunky, which surprises me, because the rest of the writing is so good. So good, in fact, that I didn't notice all of these plot holes at first. I was too busy enjoying the ride. Hence Baker's captivating style. And a book that is enjoyable to read, even when its plot isn't very good, deserves some praise. Yet that does not solve the book's problem: it lacks a climax. The absence of danger to our protagonists coincides with the absence of any dramatic tension around the mystery or any tension at all, in fact, regarding the resolution of the plot. I'm disappointed, because The Women of Nell Gwynne's starts off so strong. I was giddy with elation while reading the opening chapters. To Baker's credit, she managed to sustain that giddiness for most of the book—but once the story concluded and I sat down to think about it, I realized I'd been had.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Djj

    Launched what should have been a new series for Baker had she not died of cancer :-(. Really just a novella (that had also been published in The Company Of Thieves compendium). Can't say the story was my favorite as it's very steampunk and I'm not a huge fan, but I enjoyed the characters Launched what should have been a new series for Baker had she not died of cancer :-(. Really just a novella (that had also been published in The Company Of Thieves compendium). Can't say the story was my favorite as it's very steampunk and I'm not a huge fan, but I enjoyed the characters

  16. 5 out of 5

    Michael Smith

    Baker has built up quite a fan base for her novels about The Company but where the first one, The Garden of Iden, was an amazing piece of invention and narrative style, they’ve been sliding slowly downhill every since. This novella (a little over 100 pages) is a pretty lightweight offering, set in London of the 1840s, and focusing on a bawdy house filled with unusual women. Besides their occupation as whores, they also act as intelligence-gatherers for a secret society (about which we are told a Baker has built up quite a fan base for her novels about The Company but where the first one, The Garden of Iden, was an amazing piece of invention and narrative style, they’ve been sliding slowly downhill every since. This novella (a little over 100 pages) is a pretty lightweight offering, set in London of the 1840s, and focusing on a bawdy house filled with unusual women. Besides their occupation as whores, they also act as intelligence-gatherers for a secret society (about which we are told almost nothing beyond a few isolated hints) that appears to the predecessor body of Dr. Zeus, Inc. The first third is all set-up, seen through the eyes of Lady Beatrice, an orphaned survivor of the calamitous British retreat from Kabul under General Elphinstone, who is possessed of a steel spine as a result and is not to be trifled with. Her boss, the proprietor of Nell Gwynne’s establishment, is blind but has been outfitted with telescopic brass optical implants -- and we’re supposed to accept the neurological assumptions without explanation. The aforementioned secret society supplies all these James Bond toys to the ladies whom it sends off to a country estate to investigate an auction being held to sell a mysterious technological device to the highest international bidder. We find out what the device does but the how is also never explained -- which is annoying, since it’s not the sort of thing that can be whipped together out of thin air with no predecessor science. The story is marketed partly as a “murder mystery,” but it’s not that, either, since there’s no mystery apparatus or development; the “mystery” and its resolution take place within a few pages of each other. The style is occasionally and annoyingly precious, and there are way too many loose ends left dangling. It’s almost as if this were an outline for a novel-length work but Baker got tired of it and abandoned it. You may wonder why you bothered, but at least you won’t have spent much time on it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Arminzerella

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Lady Beatrice follows her father from India to Kabul when his regiment is sent to war. When he and most of the British soldiers are killed, Beatrice flees with the survivors. She is caught by enemy troops, raped, and has to find her own way back to civilization – on the tailcoats of her country’s troops. When she returns to Britain, her family is scandalized, though none of it is Beatrice’s fault, exactly. They will not have her, so she turns to the streets and becomes a high class prostitute. W Lady Beatrice follows her father from India to Kabul when his regiment is sent to war. When he and most of the British soldiers are killed, Beatrice flees with the survivors. She is caught by enemy troops, raped, and has to find her own way back to civilization – on the tailcoats of her country’s troops. When she returns to Britain, her family is scandalized, though none of it is Beatrice’s fault, exactly. They will not have her, so she turns to the streets and becomes a high class prostitute. While working toward her own financial independence, Beatrice is approached by a Mrs. Corvey – the proprietress of an establishment known as Nell Gwynne’s – and is offered a place as one of the women there. Part brothel, part front for a secret scientific organization, Nell Gwynne’s women are call girls as well as spies – ferreting out information for the society and moving in the highest circles. For her first mission, Lady Beatrice and several others are called away to investigate the goings on at Basmond Hall. The Women of Nell Gwynne’s takes place in a lovely Victorian setting – with a bit of a steampunk feel - with feisty, smart female protagonists who know how to take care of themselves. Armed with a complement of the latest inventions to aid them in their investigations and other spurious activities, these female James Bonds work their magic in the bedroom, their true identities and purposes unbeknownst to the men under investigation. This reminds me a bit of Spider Robinson’s Callahan series (with a feminine touch) except that it takes place in the boudoir instead of a bar. There’s a similar sense of camaraderie. This novella was very enjoyable, and it could easily be expanded into something longer. I’d like to see what these very capable women and the secretive society will do next.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    This book was an impulse grab at the library, the cover art is pretty fabulous so I figured I'd give it a try. I'm glad I did; the story was good for the short length and was intriguing enough to make me want to read other books by this author. Lady Beatrice has had a tough life and there's no two ways about it, but she's calm, cool and collected so she takes care of herself. She uses whatever resources are available at the time, and that includes her own body and the desires of other people; it' This book was an impulse grab at the library, the cover art is pretty fabulous so I figured I'd give it a try. I'm glad I did; the story was good for the short length and was intriguing enough to make me want to read other books by this author. Lady Beatrice has had a tough life and there's no two ways about it, but she's calm, cool and collected so she takes care of herself. She uses whatever resources are available at the time, and that includes her own body and the desires of other people; it's all the same to her. When one of her dead father's friends finds out what's become of Lady Beatrice, he refers her to Mrs. Corvey, the clandestine proprietress of a house of ill fame. Lady Beatrice comes on board as a resident and worker at the house and the adventure takes off from there, as apparently this is no ordinary brothel, but instead is a front for gathering information from people who forget themselves and who they're talking to. Since this was a novella, there wasn't a lot of time or space to devote to story or really deep character development, but according to the author's website more novellas featuring this cast of characters are forthcoming so apparently they're not gone forever. One big downside to this book- because it was an independent release, the cover price is very steep indeed for the amount of story that you're getting. If it sounds interesting then definitely read it, but it might be worth seeing if the public library has it first. Just saying. Overall, this was a quick, enjoyable story that brought my attention to an author I'd never heard of before and got me interested in reading more of her books. It wasn't the most spectacular thing I've ever read but it wasn't terrible either. Overall Grade: B Read more reviews at What Book is That?

  19. 5 out of 5

    a.g.e. montagner

    I got this book for free (US-to-Italy shipping included) as the lucky winner of one of the givaways during the now legendary Steampunk Month at Tor.com. And a signed copy, too--even though her signature is a nondescript scribble. The packaging is ludicrous: hardcover, dust jacket, illustrations, fanciful typeset(s)... I'm grateful & very happy; but I won't be bribed. If you're reading this at all, you want an honest review. The story is a textbook example of classic steampunk: Victorian London w I got this book for free (US-to-Italy shipping included) as the lucky winner of one of the givaways during the now legendary Steampunk Month at Tor.com. And a signed copy, too--even though her signature is a nondescript scribble. The packaging is ludicrous: hardcover, dust jacket, illustrations, fanciful typeset(s)... I'm grateful & very happy; but I won't be bribed. If you're reading this at all, you want an honest review. The story is a textbook example of classic steampunk: Victorian London with present-day technology. Steampunk, brilliant! But I'm a bit disappointed. My problem with the novel being, I suppose, that it is too much genre fiction. Everything is where it ought to be, but the whole feels like homework. Maybe the word I'm looking for is unpretentious. Namely, the best intuitions come from the setting & the background: both the references to the British way of life in the Empire (the way it is woven into the story) and the narrative twist which makes incougrously-advanced technology available are quite interesting. And the references to London life, especially to social stratifications, are among the novel's best assets. Although vintage dialogues are slightly excessive: cf. the various "I am she", "ought it?" & countless "somewhat". The characters, on the contrary, are stock figures; like in bad TV series, where every character is always given the same lines. [edit] The author died recently (31 january 2010). Meanwhile, Nell Gwynne's is sold out. No, I'm not selling my copy. And by the way, the old matrons of Nell Gwynne's was a lovely character, surely the most interesting in the novel. I'm convinced that Kage identified with her, to some extent.

  20. 5 out of 5

    AM

    Steampunk Challenge Review # 1 The Women of Nell Gwynne’s by Kage Baker Subterranean Press, 2009 This was a fun novella. A romp, if you will. Gothic estates, silly costumes, funny sex, cool Steampunk gadgets (that work within the plot), and a happy resolution. I purchased it from Amazon, and it sat on my shelf for over a year, because I tend to acquire books faster than I can read them. Like a hidden treasure, I pulled it from the shelf today and was entranced. Lady Beatrice, suffered myriad atrocio Steampunk Challenge Review # 1 The Women of Nell Gwynne’s by Kage Baker Subterranean Press, 2009 This was a fun novella. A romp, if you will. Gothic estates, silly costumes, funny sex, cool Steampunk gadgets (that work within the plot), and a happy resolution. I purchased it from Amazon, and it sat on my shelf for over a year, because I tend to acquire books faster than I can read them. Like a hidden treasure, I pulled it from the shelf today and was entranced. Lady Beatrice, suffered myriad atrocious and had the audacity not to die! Fighting her way home she found the only path open to her was that of a street-walker. Providence intervened and found her a ‘home’ at Nell Gwynne’s – a house (brothel) for ladies like her, to employ their talents in service of the crown. Supplied with the latest technological gadgets by their brother organization, The Gentleman’s Speculative Society, the ladies set off to locate a missing member of the GSS and to determine what a mysterious Lord is offering to auction off to the highest bidder. It is a shame that I’ve discovered Kage Baker only after her death. I understand that her Company novels are very good and that the GSS, is supposed to be a precursor to them. This is a novella which craves a sequel and while I understand there will be a short something out at the end of this month, they’ve appended it to the paperback edition. I hate when they do that! There are some books I’m quite happy to buy over and over, and while I did enjoy this very much, it just isn’t a must have multiple copies type book. This title was nominated for a Hugo and I believe that it won the 2009 Nebula.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    Nell Gwynne’s is an underground establishment, a brothel, which is working for Scotland Yard. And Lady Beatrice is no ordinary lady of the evening. When a member of the Gentlemen’s Speculative Society is missing the women of Nell Gwynne’s are called upon for assistance. This is steampunk, a sub-genre of science fiction. As defined by Wiki, the term denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used — usually the 19th century, and often Victorian era England — but with pro Nell Gwynne’s is an underground establishment, a brothel, which is working for Scotland Yard. And Lady Beatrice is no ordinary lady of the evening. When a member of the Gentlemen’s Speculative Society is missing the women of Nell Gwynne’s are called upon for assistance. This is steampunk, a sub-genre of science fiction. As defined by Wiki, the term denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used — usually the 19th century, and often Victorian era England — but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy. This is the first book that I’ve read by Kage Baker. No reason, I just never got around to picking one up. When I saw this novelette I thought good, I’ve got time to read a shorter story. I probably should have started with one of the earlier novels of The Company. While I enjoyed the story I really couldn’t get into it and felt I was missing some background. I would recommend it, but only to those that are already familiar with the genre.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Madeline

    I am so over the "special brothel" trope. I've heard good things about Kage Baker, and so I assume this isn't anywhere near her best work. It's a novel(la) about a fallen woman (raped by Afghanis, and subsequently cast off by her family, and this whole bit of backstory definitely made my face turn down, yes) who resigns herself to prostitution. A friend of her father's spots her at a party and recommends her to the madame of the special brothel. It's is pretty much everything you'd expect - brot I am so over the "special brothel" trope. I've heard good things about Kage Baker, and so I assume this isn't anywhere near her best work. It's a novel(la) about a fallen woman (raped by Afghanis, and subsequently cast off by her family, and this whole bit of backstory definitely made my face turn down, yes) who resigns herself to prostitution. A friend of her father's spots her at a party and recommends her to the madame of the special brothel. It's is pretty much everything you'd expect - brothel + spies + steampunk. The characters are so thin you can only see them from the front. There is a playfulness to the project that serves the book well, though, and I imagine I'll pick up something else by Baker eventually. But you should read Point of Honour instead of The Women of Nell Gwynne's. Oh, boy, should you ever.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    This is actually a 4.5 for me, only there is no such rating on Goodreads. Fabulous steampunk piece that overlaps with the Gentleman's Speculative Society (Not Less Than Gods). I recommend reading after the main Company series and Not Less Than Gods, BUT this also stands perfectly well on its on. Kage Baker wrote the most wonderful characters, men and women alike, but in particular she does not short women in any time period or profession, which is really nice, because you can focus on the people This is actually a 4.5 for me, only there is no such rating on Goodreads. Fabulous steampunk piece that overlaps with the Gentleman's Speculative Society (Not Less Than Gods). I recommend reading after the main Company series and Not Less Than Gods, BUT this also stands perfectly well on its on. Kage Baker wrote the most wonderful characters, men and women alike, but in particular she does not short women in any time period or profession, which is really nice, because you can focus on the people and the story rather than the weird antics of stunted characters. Heartily recommend - although I will warn that the subject matter and language is not for the faint of heart (if you can't guess by the Nell Gwynne reference, the ladies are employed in the oldest profession - in addition to more covert work).

  24. 4 out of 5

    LadyTechie

    This was a short fun read. Oddly enough this version is very hard to find. It was reprinted under a different title in trade paperback. This hardcover edition is a collection version and is very expensive as it typically comes signed and has wonderful illustrations in it by J. K. Potter. The premise is quite original, and actually does a bit of the steampunk with some of the technology in the early Victorian era. The premise is the use of the ladies of a whorehouse to spy and help solve crimes. This was a short fun read. Oddly enough this version is very hard to find. It was reprinted under a different title in trade paperback. This hardcover edition is a collection version and is very expensive as it typically comes signed and has wonderful illustrations in it by J. K. Potter. The premise is quite original, and actually does a bit of the steampunk with some of the technology in the early Victorian era. The premise is the use of the ladies of a whorehouse to spy and help solve crimes. I am very sorry to learn that the author, Kage Baker, has passed away. I would have loved to see where the story would have gone next. I understand that this author was very well respected and people loved her other work. I plan to look into more of what she wrote.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ladysatel

    Nell Gwynne's an establishment in early Victorian London is more that just an exclusive brothel. The ladies work for the Gentlemen's Speculative Society and service only men in the government who have important information which can be used by the Society. When the Society receives news that an important invention which could affect the security of the empire is being sold to the highest bidder the ladies are asked to go onsite of the auction to find out what is going on. A clever short story of t Nell Gwynne's an establishment in early Victorian London is more that just an exclusive brothel. The ladies work for the Gentlemen's Speculative Society and service only men in the government who have important information which can be used by the Society. When the Society receives news that an important invention which could affect the security of the empire is being sold to the highest bidder the ladies are asked to go onsite of the auction to find out what is going on. A clever short story of the Steampunk genre. Although the story is short and complete, it made me want to read more about the ladies. Sadly the author died and it is unknown if any other tales of Nell Gwynne's reamin to be published.

  26. 4 out of 5

    MB (What she read)

    It was a treat to get to finally read this new novella set in The Company world! Her writing is always a pleasure for its sly humor and this one was no exception. (Although this is really just a taster and somewhat of a tease.) I hope to see more of these characters in the future. Luckily with the scope of time involved, Baker can keep The Company stories coming as long as she has inspiration, I'd think. And which is certainly fine by me. Note: Although not strictly Steampunk, I feel that steampu It was a treat to get to finally read this new novella set in The Company world! Her writing is always a pleasure for its sly humor and this one was no exception. (Although this is really just a taster and somewhat of a tease.) I hope to see more of these characters in the future. Luckily with the scope of time involved, Baker can keep The Company stories coming as long as she has inspiration, I'd think. And which is certainly fine by me. Note: Although not strictly Steampunk, I feel that steampunk afficionados would enjoy this book. (And it would be a nice entry for those not already familiar with The Company saga.)

  27. 5 out of 5

    Gale

    I'm still trying to figure out why this is running at almost $200 on Amazon. I found a copy at the library and opened it expecting verbal gold to land at my feet. What I got was a sort of cute, sort of sexy, sort of steampunky novella that didn't seem long enough, weighty enough or well characterized enough to justify the hype. Try "Soulless" of the Parasol Protectorate instead. Update: This is from the author of the fab "The Company" series, of which I highly recommend "In the Garden of Iden". H I'm still trying to figure out why this is running at almost $200 on Amazon. I found a copy at the library and opened it expecting verbal gold to land at my feet. What I got was a sort of cute, sort of sexy, sort of steampunky novella that didn't seem long enough, weighty enough or well characterized enough to justify the hype. Try "Soulless" of the Parasol Protectorate instead. Update: This is from the author of the fab "The Company" series, of which I highly recommend "In the Garden of Iden". Having daid this, I didn't recognize it as being in the same series, which says something, I suppose.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Renee

    This was a short, fun read, but in the end was a bit too short. Really, she could have beefed this up to 300 at least, without losing anything, and without just adding vacuous filler. I would have liked to see more of the relationships between Lady Beatrice and the other women (how did the friendships work, etc.). I am nonetheless impressed that Baker managed to write a few complex and varied characters, an interesting and vivid plot, as well as finding room to throw in humor and a fairly comple This was a short, fun read, but in the end was a bit too short. Really, she could have beefed this up to 300 at least, without losing anything, and without just adding vacuous filler. I would have liked to see more of the relationships between Lady Beatrice and the other women (how did the friendships work, etc.). I am nonetheless impressed that Baker managed to write a few complex and varied characters, an interesting and vivid plot, as well as finding room to throw in humor and a fairly complete back story in a mere 122 pages. This is the first book I have read by her, and I am curious to see what else she has come up with.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Melanti

    This is a very silly sort of book - almost farcical at times - and unfortunately it's just not my style of humor. I've never been very tolerant of spy movies with crazy gadgets and while I do like some gaslamp fantasies, I'm not a steampunk fan - though the steampunk elements are almost non-existent. Technically, I suppose, this is part of the Company series, so it is more of a time-travel novel than a steampunk novel - but you could never tell that it had time travel elements without knowing wha This is a very silly sort of book - almost farcical at times - and unfortunately it's just not my style of humor. I've never been very tolerant of spy movies with crazy gadgets and while I do like some gaslamp fantasies, I'm not a steampunk fan - though the steampunk elements are almost non-existent. Technically, I suppose, this is part of the Company series, so it is more of a time-travel novel than a steampunk novel - but you could never tell that it had time travel elements without knowing what the series was about. I really liked Baker's Empress of Mars but I haven't been nearly as impressed with the rest of her work that I've read so far.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    Strange, short book with some neat artwork. The story is "steampunk," which is, to quote Wikipedia...."The term denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy." Not my cup of tea, but unlike the last two books I tried to read (True Compass by Ted Kennedy [just plain boring:] and the new Atwood book [too bizarre for me:], at least I made it throug Strange, short book with some neat artwork. The story is "steampunk," which is, to quote Wikipedia...."The term denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy." Not my cup of tea, but unlike the last two books I tried to read (True Compass by Ted Kennedy [just plain boring:] and the new Atwood book [too bizarre for me:], at least I made it through this one.

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