Synopsis: Kitty is living a happy, carefree life as a dairymaid in the countryside. The grand family she is employed by looks after her well, and she loves her trade, caring for the gentle cows and working in the cool, calm dairy. And then, of course, there is Will, the river man who she thinks is very fond of her, and indeed she is of him. Surely he will ask her to marry him soon? Then one day disaster strikes: Will disappears. Kitty is first worried and then furious. She fears that Will has only been leading her on all this time, and has now gone to London to make his fortune, forgetting about her completely. So when Kitty is asked to go to London to pick up a copy of Pride and Prejudice, the latest novel by the very fashionable Jane Austen, Kitty leaps at the chance to track down Will. But Kitty has no idea how vast London is, and how careful she must be. It is barely a moment before eagle-eyed pickpockets have spotted the country-born-and-bred Kitty and relieved her of her money and belongings. Dauntingly fast, she has lost her only means of returning home and must face the terrifying prospect of stealing in order to survive - and of being named a thief ...
What I thought: I was so very excited to read The Disgrace of Kitty Grey, for I absolutely love historical fiction - so I went in with very high expectations. Unfortunately, all this caused was serious disappointment. It's not often that I give books such low ratings, but I kept hoping as I read that maybe the book would redeem itself somehow. Kitty Grey is a milk maid, and she's happy with the life she's been given. She is in love with Will, the river ferry-man and believes they will be married. But after Will disappears, leaving his little sister in Kitty's care, she takes the opportunity to travel to London to look for him. From there, Kitty and Betsey enter a (almost ridiculous) chain of events, eventuating in gaol time and boarding a ship to Australia as a disgraced woman.
This novel certainly had it's good moments, but unfortunately I found that they were too few and far between.
The Good: Kitty is a strong character, and that gives the story most of it's leverage.
The Bad: I was bored after the first 50 pages and it was a serious struggle to read the rest of the story.