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ย 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 otherย 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.


  • DawnM
    August 21
    11:04 am

    Yuck, sounds like it should have a warning – Don’t read unless you love Catherine Cookson – I’ve always hated those dire types of books. Seriously though I have to comment on the title. What were they thinking? It is so not right on so many levels to title a book the Wanton Redhead when the heroine’s been through all that crap.


  • Memoirs of a Geisha has a HEA of sorts (definitely not a traditional one), although it happens late in the story, if you ever again get teh hankering to step outside the romance genre zone. ;-P

    This Redhead book sounds too depressing by half. What made you pick it up?


  • Wait, what?? What is this? Is this a new release or a romance from the 70’s? I guess not, not if she didn’t end up in love with the rapist.


  • I think I need a valium just from reading the review!

    She then discovers that The Greedy Nephew (who threw them out of their home) is one of the men who attacked her.

    Wow…….slow much?


  • Um, I just gotta know, at what point was she being Wanton? Cause, um, it doesn’t sound like she is at any point.

    I’m with Amie, damn, bring on the valium.


  • Wow, what a positive and uplifting book. *snort*

    Seriously, why do the “literary elite” insist that this kind of shit is somehow better than romance? Should all “good” literature make one wish to fling oneself off a tall building? If a book leaves a reader with a happy and satisfied feeling instead of suicidal thoughts, is it somehow not worthy of critical acclaim?

    No wonder the artistic world is so fucked up. They’re reading this depressing shit.


  • Oh, and BTW, as a redhead I am totally offended by the title of the book. ๐Ÿ˜‰


  • Lori
    August 21
    4:59 pm

    As a fake redhead, I am too!


  • Michelle
    August 21
    5:02 pm

    Sounds like it is missing a part where the heroine’s dog gets shot by the evil nephew. Also how about a case of TB?


  • Well, it’s got a pretty cover.



  • Damn, Dawn beat me to my comment. I never read a CC novel, but way back in the day when WE used to be the Romance Classic channel, they showed adaptations of Cookson’s novels all the time. They were my crack. I scourged myself then went right back to program the next show.

    Gosh, I miss that channel…


  • Bathsheba
    August 22
    8:21 am

    I do enjoy reading the odd saga, but I give Meg Hutchinson’s books a wide berth. They are so depressing, they make Catherine Cookson look like Helen Fielding. In all of her books, the heroine gets raped, abused, raped again, make a fortune, lose her fortune, get raped again, and then live happily ever after with a man she met briefly in Chapter 2.

    Oh, and in the UK, funnily enough this book is classified as a historical romance!


  • Well, this one seems to be one to avoid–unless you are in the mood to be depressed. Geez. How did the author keep her sanity in writing so much tragedy?


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