Cover image for Montmorency : thief, liar, gentleman?
Montmorency : thief, liar, gentleman?
Updale, Eleanor.
Personal Author:
First Orchard Books edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Orchard Books, [2003]

Physical Description:
232 pages ; 22 cm
In Victorian London, after his life is saved by a young physician, a thief utilizes the knowledge he gains in prison and from the scientific lectures he attends as the physician's case study exhibit to create a new, highly successful, double life for himself.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 7.4 8.0 77128.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
Y FICTION Young Adult Fiction Popular Materials-Young Adult

On Order



The first book in the Montmorency Series by Eleanor Updale. In this Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde-style crime story we meet the thief Montmorency; a respectable gentleman by day, who by night plays the role of his own servant, Scarper, who skulks through sewage tunnels to steal from London's wealthiest neighborhoods.

Author Notes

Eleanor Updale studied history at St. Anne's College in Oxford, England, before becoming a producer of television and radio current affairs programs for the BBC. She is studying for a Ph.D. at the new Centre for Editing Lives and Letters at Queen Mary, University of London. She is also a trustee of the charity Listening Books. Ms. Updale lives in England.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 6-9. Sewage stinks, but rich people, on the whole, don't. This truism forms the core of Updale's Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde-style crime story. When thief Montmorency isn't living the high life as a respectable gentleman, he plays the role of his own servant, Scarper, who skulks through sewage tunnels to steal from London's wealthiest neighborhoods. Instead of greeting Montmorency/Scarper's misdeeds with a karmic comeuppance, Updale openly admires the ingenuity of a con artist who is able to maneuver within rigidly stratified Victorian society. Many readers will find the absence of a moral slant refreshing, and Montmorency's heart-pounding brushes with discovery add a palpable layer of suspense. It's tough to pinpoint the target audience, though--some readers will react negatively to the absence of characters their own age, and find the abundant period details overly fussy (in one scene, Montmorency lingers over the subtle flavors of whisky). This will appeal the most to older kids who enjoy immersing themselves in historical atmosphere, including some adult devotees of Victorian detective fiction. A sequel is planned for 2005. --Jennifer Mattson Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Updale employs a distinctive, wry voice in this debut novel to launch a series about a convict-turned-gentleman in late 19th-century England. After being paraded around lecture halls by the doctor who saved his life after a near-fatal accident at his capture, the cunning Montmorency develops a taste for the high life and a strategy for attaining it (involving a map of underground sewers, viewed at same lecture halls). The humor arises from the juxtaposition of the fellow's circumstances versus his aspirations. For instance, Montmorency hatches his plan as the prison's chaplain utters the blessing at the conclusion of services: "He would become his own accomplice. His old self would become the servant of his new self. One would live in squalor, the other in style." Updale credibly establishes the prisoner as intelligent and as a quick study in the art of mimicry (taught to him by his cell mate). These two skills enable him to dart between his dual worlds. The author also lays bare the widening dichotomy between the two personae ("Montmorency might have hopes of becoming a gentleman, but Scarper [the alter ego living in squalor] really wasn't a nice man") even as she draws a parallel between the treachery in both the sewers and in the upper echelons of London society. Though there's nary a child in sight, the novel does serve as a fine introduction to the thriller genre, and this first installment (whose ending leaves ample opportunity for more adventures) will likely whet readers' appetites for more. Ages 10-14. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-10-Cunning criminal mastermind Montmorency used his time in prison to devise the ultimate scheme to relieve the Victorian London upper crust of their prized possessions. Tipped off by a clue he heard while serving as a guinea pig in a medical seminar, Montmorency decides that the ghastly city sewers are his ticket to fame and fortune. And once out of prison, he heads straight below ground where he can enter and leave the apartments of his victims without a trace. Stealing enough goods to buy a room at one of London's poshest hotels, Montmorency discovers that the leisure-filled life he dreams of is finally within reach. Only then can he move to phase two of his plan. He devises an alter ego: Scarper, the sly thief and humble servant of the more esteemed and gentlemanly Montmorency. In true Shakespearean form, the "two" men dive in and out of scenes with astute deftness, duping less fortunate (and sometimes deserving) characters with hilarious aplomb. Peculiarly enough, Updale's seamless historical novel contains no true adolescent characters. Yet the transitional stages of Montmorency's entry into society and evolving sense of self-discovery resemble the paths taken by many famous teen protagonists. Readers will find themselves drawn not only to Montmorency's compellingly bizarre biography, but also to his clever and mischievous nature that eventually leads him to both a realization of his past wrongs and a valid career where he can put his "best" skills to good use.-Hillias J. Martin, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 1875: The Bloody Beginningp. 1
Chapter 2 Sir Joseph Bazalgettep. 6
Chapter 3 Planningp. 12
Chapter 4 Prison Lifep. 17
Chapter 5 Measuring Upp. 23
Chapter 6 Farcett's Housep. 26
Chapter 7 The Wallp. 30
Chapter 8 Montmorency and Scarperp. 34
Chapter 9 Releasep. 39
Chapter 10 Into Londonp. 47
Chapter 11 First Tryp. 56
Chapter 12 The First Jobp. 59
Chapter 13 The Flushersp. 63
Chapter 14 The Paperp. 68
Chapter 15 Moving Onp. 76
Chapter 16 The Marimion Hotelp. 80
Chapter 17 The Resident Guestp. 86
Chapter 18 Cissiep. 92
Chapter 19 Mr. Lyonsp. 99
Chapter 20 At the Hatter'sp. 108
Chapter 21 In the Pubp. 115
Chapter 22 Sortedp. 119
Chapter 23 La Travlatap. 126
Chapter 24 Flushed Out?p. 133
Chapter 25 The Trialp. 140
Chapter 26 Back to the Societyp. 145
Chapter 27 Horror Undergroundp. 154
Chapter 28 Struggling Homep. 161
Chapter 29 Invalidsp. 165
Chapter 30 A Dramap. 171
Chapter 31 Fox-Selwyn and the Doctorp. 175
Chapter 32 Bargles Clubp. 181
Chapter 33 At the Racesp. 185
Chapter 34 Fox-Selwyn and the Mauramaniansp. 190
Chapter 35 Scoutingp. 200
Chapter 36 Into the Fortressp. 204
Chapter 37 Dinnerp. 209
Chapter 38 Reporting Backp. 216
Chapter 39 Reparationsp. 223