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The Women of Nell Gwynne's (The Company)

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  489 ratings  ·  93 reviews
Lady Beatrice was the proper British daughter of a proper British soldier, until tragedy struck and sent her home to walk the streets of early-Victorian London. But Lady Beatrice is no ordinary whore, and is soon recruited to join an underground establishment known as Nell Gwynne's. Nell Gwynne's is far more than simply the finest and most exclusive brothel in Whitehall; i ...more
Hardcover, 122 pages
Published June 1st 2009 by Subterranean Press
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Community Reviews

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A fun, quick read. This book contains the novella The Women of Nell Gwynne's and the related short story "The Bohemian Astrobleme." The premise is interesting: an exclusive group of clever Victorian courtesans collect useful information from London’s elite, using nifty little steampunk inventions supplied by an organization that Baker’s fans will recognize as an early incarnation of The Company.

While the plots of these stories felt rushed and unsatisfying, Kage Baker’s prose is wonderful and amu
Shellie (Layers of Thought)
Jan 16, 2012 Shellie (Layers of Thought) rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: steam punk lovers
Recommended to Shellie (Layers of Thought) by: Tor Books
Original review posted on Layers of Thought.

A steam punk novella which won a 2009 Nebula award. It has a bit of a satirical twist, where the women of this “special organization” help with the fight against evil in their special and socially unaccepted way.

About: “The women of Nell Gwynne’s” is set in an alternative England where steam has a decidedly different technological aspect than the standard historical Victorian era model; this is definitely steam punk. The unique aspect of the story is t
Sep 27, 2009 Kara rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: sci-fi
This one is strictly for die hard Company fans, and even then, despite this being a novella about a brothel, you're going to be left unsatisfied.

Most of Kage Baker's Company stories - like the novel Sky Coyote, the novella Empress of Mars, or the short story Hellfire at Twlight, can easily be read as stand alone works and much enjoyed even if you aren't familiar with her whole Company universe.

Here, if you haven't read just about all her other works that, combined, describe Dr. Zeus, the Gentlem
Mar 12, 2010 Wealhtheow rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of the Company
Recommended to Wealhtheow by: Julian
Courageous and attractive, Lady Beatrice is the much-admired daughter of her soldier papa. She impetuously follows him to his latest post--only to realize that he, and everyone else at the encampment, will shortly be killed. She manages to rescue herself from the carnage, but at the expense of her innocence. Too damaged to be considered genteel any longer, too practical to die tragically in the gutter, Lady Beatrice decides to turn her disgrace into an asset. She becomes an excellent prostitute- ...more
This short novel tells the story of Lady Beatrice, a "fallen" aristocrat of Queen Victoria's England and one of the women of the brothel called Nell Gwynne's. Lady Beatrice's father was killed in Afghanistan, and while she was trying to flee the country and return to England Lady Beatrice was raped. Unfortunately, this state of affairs was unacceptable to her genteel mother and Beatrice was left to the streets to fend for herself as a street prostitute while the rest of society was led to consid ...more
Lady Beatrice had a bad luck of losing her father, being kidnapped and raped, becoming a killer and being denied any connection to her mother and sisters. She did the only thing she could. She started streetwalking, but her father's friend sent Mrs. Corvey to offer her a job and a different way of using her assets.

"You and I both know how little it takes to ruin a girl, when a man can make the same mistakes and the world smiles indulgently at him. Wouldn't you like to make the world more just?"

Althea Ann
The prostitutes at Nell Gwynne’s house are carefully selected women of many talents. Few know that their clients include not just the upper crust of London society, but The Gentlemen’s Speculative Society, who pay mainly, not for pleasures of the flesh, but for secrets and spycraft. Their payments to the madam seem to include technology which really seems to have no place in 19th-century Britain. When the Society arranges a job where the women are hired as entertainers at a very private auction, ...more
I'm starting to understand the point of novellas. I can read one in an hour or two and I've actually finished a book! My reading time seems to be getting more limited, and sadly, the idea of a nice long book fills me with frustration as much as anticipation these days. It just seems to take so long to find the time to complete a doorstop book, as good as it may be.

So anyway, here's one from the late great Kage Baker. It's two short stories put together, really. The second one seemed a bit rushed
Michael K.
Baker has built up quite a fan base for her novels about The Company but where the first one, The Garden of Iden, was an amazing piece of invention and narrative style, they’ve been sliding slowly downhill every since. This novella (a little over 100 pages) is a pretty lightweight offering, set in London of the 1840s, and focusing on a bawdy house filled with unusual women. Besides their occupation as whores, they also act as intelligence-gatherers for a secret society (about which we are told a ...more
This felt more like the first third+summary of the end of a full-length novel than a novella. The overall background, streampunk elements, and plot were quite interesting, but not fleshed out enough. Only the most important couple of characters get any development, and more space is spent setting things up than on the actual story. But it was still an enjoyable quick read.
Very sparse writing, the story was told almost journalistically. Is that a word? I liked the idea of a troupe of spunky whores who tease state secrets out of their johns while doing their job. The madame is fabulous! She sells the secrets to a secret society who outfits her with fancy James-Bond-esque gadgets for spying. Very short little romp.
This is actually a 4.5 for me, only there is no such rating on Goodreads.

Fabulous steampunk piece that overlaps with the Gentleman's Speculative Society (Not Less Than Gods). I recommend reading after the main Company series and Not Less Than Gods, BUT this also stands perfectly well on its on. Kage Baker wrote the most wonderful characters, men and women alike, but in particular she does not short women in any time period or profession, which is really nice, because you can focus on the people
Liked the concept, but none of the characters really had much development, and I constantly had to pause and remind myself who was who. I suspect I'd like the full-length novels better, or else that reading the other Company Series installments would flesh things out a bit more to my liking.
Entertaining steampunk tale about the secret agent activities of a group of Victorian prostitutes. I haven't read much Baker, but this makes for an interesting introduction.
Perfect in its brevity and whimsy. I mean, I can never say the following phrase enough: steampunk hooker secret agents, ftw
Nell Gwynne’s is an underground establishment, a brothel, which is working for Scotland Yard. And Lady Beatrice is no ordinary lady of the evening. When a member of the Gentlemen’s Speculative Society is missing the women of Nell Gwynne’s are called upon for assistance.

This is steampunk, a sub-genre of science fiction. As defined by Wiki, the term denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used — usually the 19th century, and often Victorian era England — but with pro
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This book was an impulse grab at the library, the cover art is pretty fabulous so I figured I'd give it a try. I'm glad I did; the story was good for the short length and was intriguing enough to make me want to read other books by this author.

Lady Beatrice has had a tough life and there's no two ways about it, but she's calm, cool and collected so she takes care of herself. She uses whatever resources are available at the time, and that includes her own body and the desires of other people; it'
This is an expansion of Kage Baker's Company series (which I admit to not having read anything of except for a couple of short stories). The expansion is that the Nell Gwynne stories are set in the mid 19th century. Nell herself runs the most exclusive and high class house of prostitution in London. Unknown to most, including their clients, is that Nell's women are spies for the Gentlemen's Speculative Society a forerunner of The Company. While the Gentlemen push the bounds of science far past t ...more
Full review can be found here.

As of the very first lines, this book strikes you. It is probably largely due to the fact that the style is so very formal but at the same time… I can only think to call it in-your-face and cheeky. The main character is always referred to as Lady Beatrice because that is the name that she took for her prostitute persona. The reader never knows what her name was before this, though they do (briefly) follow her through the early years of her life and the events that l
Steampunk Challenge Review # 1

The Women of Nell Gwynne’s by Kage Baker
Subterranean Press, 2009

This was a fun novella. A romp, if you will. Gothic estates, silly costumes, funny sex, cool Steampunk gadgets (that work within the plot), and a happy resolution. I purchased it from Amazon, and it sat on my shelf for over a year, because I tend to acquire books faster than I can read them. Like a hidden treasure, I pulled it from the shelf today and was entranced.

Lady Beatrice, suffered myriad atrocio
No Books
I got this book for free (US-to-Italy shipping included) as the lucky winner of one of the givaways during the now legendary Steampunk Month at And a signed copy, too--even though her signature is a nondescript scribble. The packaging is ludicrous: hardcover, dust jacket, illustrations, fanciful typeset(s)... I'm grateful & very happy; but I won't be bribed. If you're reading this at all, you want an honest review.

The story is a textbook example of classic steampunk: Victorian Lond
míol mór
I got this book for free (US-to-Italy shipping included) as the lucky winner of one of the givaways during the now legendary Steampunk Month at And a signed copy, too--even though her signature is a nondescript scribble. The packaging is ludicrous: hardcover, dust jacket, illustrations, fanciful typeset(s)... I'm grateful & very happy; but I won't be bribed. If you're reading this at all, you want an honest review.

The story is a textbook example of classic steampunk: Victorian Lond
colleen the contrarian  ± (... never stop fighting) ±
This is a pretty decent story, for a short story. Or, possibly, novella.

As the blurb says, this slight - 165 pages - book contains both "The Women of Nell Gwynne's", which I guess qualifies as a novella, and "The Bohemian Astrobleme", which is definitely a short story.

In the first story we meet Lady Beatrice, the eponymous Scarlet Spy, who is "ruined" and turns to prostitution to survive, and is soon picked up by the house of Nell Gwynn to turn her talents to larger purposes.

I generally don't li
Ben Babcock
I love Regency and Victorian fiction. In those halcyon days of a declining empire, men and women of rank fused scientific exploration with military daring. The blank spaces on the map were shrinking every day, and as such, this age of exploration and adventure was also an age of introspection. Strict notions of propriety and visible class barriers contributed to meditations on what makes one human, on the roles of birth and upbringing in the development of a person, and the roles of gender and s ...more
I am so over the "special brothel" trope. I've heard good things about Kage Baker, and so I assume this isn't anywhere near her best work. It's a novel(la) about a fallen woman (raped by Afghanis, and subsequently cast off by her family, and this whole bit of backstory definitely made my face turn down, yes) who resigns herself to prostitution. A friend of her father's spots her at a party and recommends her to the madame of the special brothel. It's is pretty much everything you'd expect - brot ...more
This was a fun, short, super-fast and easy read in the science-fiction/steampunk genre. Strong independant female characters, a little adventure, a big of Jules Verne-esque inventions. Really, what's not to like?

Lady Beatrice has had a tough life and because of society's stupid rules, even though the things that happened to her were through no fault of her own she cannot be received anywhere in polite society. But, being a smart and pragmatic woman, she decides to join the ladies of Nelle Gwynne
This was a short fun read. Oddly enough this version is very hard to find. It was reprinted under a different title in trade paperback. This hardcover edition is a collection version and is very expensive as it typically comes signed and has wonderful illustrations in it by J. K. Potter. The premise is quite original, and actually does a bit of the steampunk with some of the technology in the early Victorian era. The premise is the use of the ladies of a whorehouse to spy and help solve crimes. ...more
This was a short, fun read, but in the end was a bit too short. Really, she could have beefed this up to 300 at least, without losing anything, and without just adding vacuous filler. I would have liked to see more of the relationships between Lady Beatrice and the other women (how did the friendships work, etc.). I am nonetheless impressed that Baker managed to write a few complex and varied characters, an interesting and vivid plot, as well as finding room to throw in humor and a fairly comple ...more
Dec 04, 2009 MB rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Steampunk aficionadoes and The Company fans
It was a treat to get to finally read this new novella set in The Company world! Her writing is always a pleasure for its sly humor and this one was no exception. (Although this is really just a taster and somewhat of a tease.) I hope to see more of these characters in the future. Luckily with the scope of time involved, Baker can keep The Company stories coming as long as she has inspiration, I'd think. And which is certainly fine by me.

Note: Although not strictly Steampunk, I feel that steampu
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Born June 10, 1952, in Hollywood, California, and grew up there and in Pismo Beach, present home. Spent 12 years in assorted navy blue uniforms obtaining a good parochial school education and numerous emotional scars. Rapier wit developed as defense mechanism to deflect rage of larger and more powerful children who took offense at abrasive, condescending and arrogant personality in a sickly eight- ...more
More about Kage Baker...
In the Garden of Iden (The Company, #1) Sky Coyote (The Company, #2) Mendoza in Hollywood (The Company, #3) The Anvil of the World The Graveyard Game (The Company, #4)

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“A lengthy and painful discussion followed. It lasted through tea and dinner. It was revealed to Lady Beatrice that, though she had been sincerely mourned when Mamma had been under the impression she was dead, her unexpected return to life was something more than inconvenient. Had she never considered the disgrace she would inflict upon her family by returning, after all that had happened to her? What were all Aunt Harriet's neighbors to think?” 3 likes
“No one deserves good or evil fortune," said Lady Beatrice. "Things simply happen and one survives them the best one can.” 0 likes
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