Cover image for The butcher's hook
The butcher's hook
Ellis, Janet, author.
Personal Author:
First Pegasus books hardcover edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Pegasus Books, 2017.
Physical Description:
347 pages ; 24 cm
In the wake of the death of her infant brother in eighteenth-century London, nineteen-year-old Anne Jaccob is determined to marry a butcher's apprentice, no matter what her ailing mother and uncaring father think.
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FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
FICTION Adult Fiction-New 7-Day Item Popular Materials-New Fiction
FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf
FICTION Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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London, summer 1763.At nineteen, Anne Jaccob is awakened to the possibility of joy when she meets Fub, the butcher's apprentice, and begins to imagine a life of passion with him. The only daughter of well-to-do parents, Anne lives a sheltered life. Her home is a miserable place. Though her family want for nothing, her father is uncaring, her mother is ailing, and the baby brother who taught her to love is dead.Unfortunately her parents have already chosen a more suitable husband for her than Fub. But Anne is a determined young woman, with an idiosyncratic moral compass. In the matter of pursuing her own happiness, she shows no fear or hesitation. Even if it means getting a little blood on her hands.A vivid and surprising tale, The Butcher's Hook brims with the color and atmosphere of Georgian London, as seen through the eyes of a strange and memorable young woman.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

In this macabre love story, Anne Jaccob is a young woman from a wealthy family in Georgian London. Though she lives a comfortable life, she receives no love from her cold father, and her mother has been wasting away for years. Not only that, but Anne has been promised to an oily, self-absorbed man. Longing for love and an escape from her home, Anne is instantly smitten by the butcher's boy, Fub, when he makes a delivery to the home. She embarks on a whirlwind love affair, which she must keep secret, and there are no lengths that she won't go to in order to protect it, including cold-blooded murder. Still, readers won't suspect the story's dark turn, which flips the usual tropes on their heads and makes for a pleasantly surprising read. Ellis' debut is at times awkwardly paced, and characters are generally unlikable and melodramatic. Fans of the setting, with plenty of sex and violence thrown in, will enjoy the novelty of this book that reads like a Tim Burton film.--Brock, Emily Copyright 2016 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Set in 1763 London, Ellis's debut novel confronts the darker aspects of femininity through the life of wealthy and sheltered Anne Jaccob. Even though her parents have handpicked a suitable husband for her, Anne chafes against the idea of a traditional marriage and finds herself jaded toward love after the death of her younger brother and her mother's failed pregnancies. Despite Anne's aloofness about her own future, she becomes infatuated with a butcher's apprentice, Fub. Subverting her father's wishes that she marry an older business associate of his who repulses her, Anne begins a secret romance with Fub. Their surreptitious encounters and the exhilaration the secret relationship inspires Anne's darker nature to bloom. Ellis's compelling plot rests on Anne's formative sexuality and constantly returns to differing conceptions of love and the lengths people go to in order to protect their status and reputation. The unwillingness of anyone in the story to view Anne as more emotionally complicated than a child leads her self-discovery to run amok, and Ellis to explore the stifling effects of such repressive views of sexuality. Ellis's use of vivid imagery and focus on grisly detail add a macabre beauty to a stirring story. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Largely ignored by the entire -household and still mourning the death of the only person she loved, her infant brother, wealthy merchant's daughter Anne Jacob is an outcast at the fringes of a family. She has no particular or meaningful connections to the outside world until she meets Fub, the butcher's apprentice. It's no wonder that this lonely young woman on the brink of discovering her burgeoning sexuality is instantly obsessed with the handsome, swaggering man. Lust, coupled with the threat of a forced marriage to one of her father's friends, makes Anne bold; even as the world is closing in on her, she makes a dramatic bid for freedom that will leave readers gasping. VERDICT In her first novel, Ellis weaves a darkly psychological tale set in the rough-and-tumble, vulgar, colorful London of Moll Flanders and Tom Jones. Evoking pity, abhorrence, admiration, and disgust, this title is strongly recommended for readers with a love of Georgian literature and Georgian London and those intrigued by the complexity of the human psyche.-Cynthia Johnson, formerly with Cary Memorial Lib., Lexington, MA © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

At first this title may seem like an oft-told tale-a poor little rich girl in Georgian England must marry an unappealing man, but she falls in love with someone beneath her station. However, the story goes deeper, and fast. As a child, Anne is taken advantage of by a teacher, leaving her with a skewed idea of the power of sex. Later in life, when Anne meets Fub, the butcher's apprentice, her sexuality is unleashed and she will let nothing stand in her way. She has no use for the unfortunately named Mr. Onions, who has been promised her hand in marriage; Margaret, Fub's intended; or even the aforementioned teacher. What begins as a bit of a slow burn turns horrifying as Anne becomes willing to do anything for Fub, even as she realizes he's not worth it. The heroine is amoral but not entirely unsympathetic. Debut novelist Ellis uses cunning turns of phrase ("He carried a great deal of his luncheon in his beard, and often it was not even the luncheon of the day, but of several days before."). Does Anne get her just deserts? That question would prompt a spicy book discussion. VERDICT Part horror, part historical fiction, this offering will appeal to those with darkly gothic tastes.-Jamie -Watson, Baltimore County Public Library © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.