Warning: Spoilers galore
After the utter bollocks that was The Second Husband, I stupidly decided to read Meg Hutchinson’s The Wanton Redhead.
This is a historical, by the way.
Basically, the sister (Thea) of our heroine, (Alyssa) gets pregnant when the bloke she’s having an affair with, refuses to marry her.
Three years later, she dumps the child on Alyssa, to be with some other guy who promises her riches beyond her imagination. (Yep, she was a grade A twat) At first Alyssa refuses, until Thea threatens to throw her own son down a mine shaft if Alyssa doesn’t keep him. Nice.
Anyway Alyssa ends up not only looking after her mother, (who’s mind departed with the fairies when her husband and four sons got killed in a mining accident,) but also raising a child that isn’t hers.
A few years later, Alyssa is walking home, when she hears Thea’s son, David (a boy who she loves more than life) cry out. She runs to his aid, only to find two men cracking a whip over the little boy’s head. Alyssa grabs him, and tells him to run, leaving her to face the men on her own. The drunken bastards then rape her, just because in those days, they apparently could.
Anyway, by now I’m suitably appalled, and I begin to get that sinking feeling that this book is going to go along the same lines as Louise Candlish’s book. Fucking hell.
Anyhoo, as if things weren’t bad enough, Alyssa, David (who’s blind by the way, sorry, did I forget to mention that?) and her mother are then kicked out of the house they’ve lived in most of their lives, by the ex-owner’s greedy nephew.
They are taken in by a friend’s brother, and things seem to be settling down, when David gets sick. He of course dies, (Seriously, did you expect anything less?) so that Alyssa is left to take care of her loony mother, who’s never once showed her the love and affection that she used to heap on her slut of a sister.
Alyssa is broken hearted because she loved David like her own, and also because she realises that there is no longer anybody in the world who loves her unconditionally. Her own mother’s neglect and lack of feeling towards her has been a source of pain for her, over many years, and now that David is dead, she feels the lack of a mother’s love, even greater.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, not long after, Alyssa’s mother wanders off, and ends up drowning. So now Alyssa really is on her own. She then discovers that The Greedy Nephew (who threw them out of their home) is one of the men who attacked her.
Anyway, the upshot of the story is, Alyssa discovers that her sister might not be living happily ever after, but may indeed be the victim of white slave trade, so goes off on a boat to Jamaica, where once again, she’s nearly attacked by the man who paid for her passage.
At this point, I was exhausted, but I managed to finish the story, and Alyssa did manage to get her happy ending, but I was so not convinced.
This book was a slight improvement on The Second Husband, but only because the heroine did end up with somebody who loved her.
With all the stuff that had happened to her, I just wasn’t convinced that she would be able to live a normal happy life.
The book was written well enough, but I just couldn’t deal with so many bad things happening to one person. From now on, I’ll stick to good old crime books, and romance novels. At least I kinda know what to expect with both of those genres. Sheesh.