Field Lane is a book about a place where the literary worlds created by Charles Dickens and Mark Twain collide. A place where real-world people cross over with established fictional characters and newly imagined ones. It tells a story of revenge, redemption and rights.
Charley Bates was an outsider. Always the third wheel to the Artful Dodger and Oliver Twist’s double-act in Fagin’s gang. Then he became the redeemed thief who managed to turn himself into ‘the merriest young grazier in the whole of Northamptonshire.’ But would he remain on the straight and narrow or go back to his criminal ways? What he needed was a mission to keep himself honest. And then he got one: a chance to bring justice to bear on a villain from his past, Monks, the stepbrother of Oliver Twist. Getting even would mean a trip from the Thames to the Mississippi and help from old friends to right the wrongs done by the ‘creature’ as Charley thought of him.
Field Lane reflects a 19th century world filled with social injustice, slavery, drug abuse and Royal privilege. Its fictional characters become intertwined with real-life historical figures such as the Duchess of Kent (the mother of Queen Victoria), the scientist Michael Faraday and Sam Clemens, the boy who would become Mark Twain. At the climax justice is indeed served in line with Charles Dickens’ wish. But by whom?
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