Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Gilbert & Sullivan Set Me Free” as Want to Read:
Gilbert & Sullivan Set Me Free
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Gilbert & Sullivan Set Me Free

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  59 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
Based on a true incident, this moving novel tells the story of a production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Pirates of Penzance”—as performed by the inmates of a women’s prison in 1914! Infused with music, beautifully researched and filled with fascinating characters, this is great teen listening.
Audio CD, Economy edition, 240 pages
Published September 1st 2004 by Full Cast Audio (first published 2003)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Gilbert & Sullivan Set Me Free, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Gilbert & Sullivan Set Me Free

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jan 27, 2008 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: choir nerds, fans of plucky women in history
I picked this up because, I admit it, I'm a sucker for the Sister Act genre. Come on, who is immune to the power of music triumphing over the worst circumstances? Especially when it's based on a true story of a 1914 women's prison. And it didn't disappoint. It turned out to be a really rich coming of age tale full of the laughs and drama of prison life, an underlying mystery, and a cast of strong women. And the feminist social commentary wasn't even too heavy handed.

And the music! Anyone who cla
Gilbert and Sullivan Set Me Free is a novel about a sixteen-year-old girl named Libby Dodge. The book takes place in 1914. Libby is serving a prison sentence in a women's prison called Sherborn Women's Prison. The new chaplain, Mrs. Wilkenson, decides to have a musical called The Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert and sullivan. Libby is very excited and she thinks that she is a natural performer.

During Libby's time spent in prison she makes friend with Ma McCreary. Libby and Ma do laundry together.
Catherine Gillespie
Gilbert & Sullivan Set Me Free is not a book I’d send a kid off with alone, and actually, it’s not a book I’d do as a read-aloud either. It did make a great audio book, because it’s augmented by pieces of music and singing, and is pretty dramatically rendered with different voices. The book is a fictional representation of a time of prison reform around World War I, and particularly addresses the plight of women prisoners. The kids loved the music and the story, but I did have to fast forwar ...more
Aug 19, 2011 Janet rated it liked it
I wasn't expecting much as I snagged this read for 50 cents. Some days I want a quick entertaining read and this book is only 266 pages. I am surprised how much I like the book. Author Kathleen Karr has a very clean writing style and the relationships between the characters developed nicely. In the author's note she states that the book is fiction based on fact. Her inspiration was an article in the New York Times of June 21, 1914, "Women 'Doing Time' Give The Pirates of Penzance". The prison is ...more
Aug 27, 2008 Erica rated it really liked it
Set in a turn of the century (early 1900s) women's prison, the story follows a young woman, Libby Dodge, as she finds her way with the help of other prisoners and the prison chaplain, who transforms the women through song -- first Handel's Messiah and then Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert & Sullivan.

A great book to listen to, with the cast breaking out into song and great voices for the characters. It also deals with social issues -- women's suffrage, abortion, domestic violence and the plight
Jodee Clark
Oct 04, 2011 Jodee Clark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is best listened to so you get the whole effect. This is a wonderful story of friendship, survival, and the courage to make the best of a bad situation. Based on a true life story. The author did a wonderful job or re-telling this story of a womans penintentuary and the aweome job they did with the performance of Pirates of Penzance.

Music has a power to change us. This book brought that to life for me again.

a Must read/listen to for every person!
Apr 03, 2010 Lindi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Full Cast Audio production of this book is well worth searching out. I totally enjoyed the story -- there were some stock characters and a couple cringe-worthy plot devices -- but Libby's growth from victim to thinking person was believable and inspiring, and the audio book has plenty of music to add to the book's charms.
Oct 06, 2013 Brenda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, 2013
Playaway. I really liked this book, and recommend that it is listened on CD or playaway. The full cast audio totally made this a top notch read. The end made me cry, mostly because of the full cast audio. So good!!
Nov 13, 2008 Camille rated it really liked it
Greatful to my local public library for having the audio version of this book available for download. Imay not have found it otherwise.

Very interesting bit of historical fiction. Loved the use of music in the production. Narrator had a pleasing voice and all the performances were strong.
Mar 25, 2013 Laura rated it it was amazing
Life in prison is miserable until the new Chaplain hears Libby sing. Then life changes for not only Libby, but the whole prison. Based on true events, Kathleen Karr weaves a marvelous tale of life in prison in the early 20th Century. I highly recommend it!
Jul 15, 2013 Amanda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting read about life in a MA women's prison in the early 20th century. I really enjoyed the Gilbert & Sullivan storyline. A quick, fun read.
Feb 14, 2015 RJC rated it really liked it
This is one of those rare times when I would recommend the audio version as the best way to experience this book. Good story and a wonderful production from Full Cast audio books.
Jun 03, 2016 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Intriguing fiction against historical backdrop of women's prison in early 20th Century. Although published as a children's book, I'd give it an NC17 rating for very mature subject matter.
Bcoghill Coghill
Feb 21, 2010 Bcoghill Coghill rated it really liked it
What a treat this book is. I am listening to it on an Audio CD which is a wonderful way to listen to a book featuring Gilbert & Sullivan's work.
Feb 02, 2008 Rebecca marked it as to-read
Wrote this down a long time ago just because of the title. Now that I read the description, I want to read it even more!
Sally Bolles
Aug 25, 2010 Sally Bolles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I listened to this book which was dramatized. Reading the book probably would have not been as enjoyable. I found it in a search of audio historical fiction.
Digne rated it really liked it
Apr 07, 2013
Sharon H
Sharon H rated it really liked it
Aug 11, 2009
Nikki rated it did not like it
Nov 07, 2013
Linda rated it liked it
Mar 03, 2014
Olivia rated it really liked it
May 30, 2012
Terri rated it liked it
Jan 13, 2012
DJ rated it liked it
Nov 01, 2010
Nancy rated it really liked it
Sep 06, 2011
Nicole rated it really liked it
May 06, 2010
Hanna rated it it was ok
Oct 12, 2009
Miranda-Hermione rated it really liked it
Jan 28, 2013
Rbbiefrah rated it it was amazing
Nov 14, 2014
Cambria rated it really liked it
Apr 29, 2016
MyLadyLydia rated it liked it
Aug 13, 2010
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
Kathleen Karr was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and grew up on a chicken farm in Dorothy, New Jersey. After escaping to college, she worked in the film industry, and also taught in high school and college. She seriously began writing fiction on a dare from her husband. After honing her skills in women’s fiction, her children asked her to write a book for them, (It Ain’t Always Easy, Farrar, Str ...more
More about Kathleen Karr...

Share This Book