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Misfortune

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  1,354 ratings  ·  215 reviews
Victorian dandy Lord Geoffroy Loveall is faced with a dilemma. As heir apparent to Love Hall, he must produce an heir of his own; but his obsessive love for his long-dead sister has rendered him a paralytic in matters of the heart. Adding to Geoffroy's troubles is his difficult mother, Lady Loveall, who mercilessly castigates her effeminate son, and a circling mob of greed ...more
Published (first published 2005)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,390)
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Greg
Did you ever wonder what Dickens would be like if there was more gender confusion and hand jobs? Well if you did then this novel could put your mind at rest. If you didn't ever wonder about those things then maybe you'll just read this book and enjoy the story as being a fun English novel with villainous villains, wronged innocents, creepy family secrets and an almost magical country estate.
Joshua
I am completely blown away by Mr. Stace's ability to completely envelop a character and make the character LIVE! Now I am eagerly looking forward to reading more of his work.

Misfortune is a truly engaging and titillating story! A boy raised as a girl by an asexual man and his literary wife? What will happen when puberty rears its ugly head? What indeed!!! The awakening of Rose Old is monumental, especially to his extended family. An uncle accidentally sent to his final reward, a cousin aroused a
...more
Elizabeth (Miss Eliza)
A young baby boy is being thrown out with the trash. Unwanted and alone a chance of fate has him picked up by the richest Lord in the land, Lord Loveall. Lord Loveall has been mourning all his life for his dear departed sister and when he sees this baby he assumes it to be female and a chance to have his sister back. But Lord Loveall can't just miraculously have an heir, a quick marriage is arranged with his sister's old governess, Anonyma, who has stayed on as librarian at Love Hall to catalog ...more
Andrea
Confused gender identity, English humor; sometimes very clever and sometimes quite slow paced... While I enjoyed the writing style and the overall plot, the latter portion of the book isn't constructed as well as the first. Oh, but I did enjoy it, and was disturbed by it.
Lora
I am so conflicted by this book. On one hand, I found the exploration of gender absolutely fascinating, and the character's eventual resting place (no spoilers) extremely satisfying. I loved the discussion of nature vs. nurture, and the assertion that it's not as clear cut as advocates of EITHER side would have us believe. I loved the ambiguity of it all.

Unfortunately, I found the plot and pacing a little bit lacking. Other readers have noted that the middle bit is rather ponderous, weighed down
...more
Lucy
This was a very interesting book to say the least. About a very, very odd, wealthy man who finds a baby boy in a garbage heap and raises him as a girl in remembrance of his dead sister who he never quite got over (I think this was in the mid-1800s). Unfortunately the boy, named Rose, doesn't realize that he is a girl until he is 17 years old, and can't understand why he needs to shave, amongst other things, that his girl friends don't have to do. Really though, the way they explain everything it ...more
Jady
I like reading debut novels in a slightly different way from how I enjoy novels and books in general. There's a freshness to them, and a bit of risktaking as well, on my part as well as the writers'...the potentiality for discovery. Of course, I enjoy reading works by established and acclaimed writers too, but with them there's sometimes a shadow of prior readers' opinions and judgments hovering at the edge of my consciousness. "What did they think here? Were they right? Do I agree with them? Wh ...more
Amber
I'm not sure what I have to say about this book. I feel like I should have some comment on what it says about social issues of gender, wealth/poverty, etc., but I haven't thought too deeply about it yet. I'm sort of a plot-whore, and this book has lots of plot. I think I'm still too busy sifting through all of that to think about larger implications.

I'm just kind of mad at the parents (though they were nice and did, after all, rescue an abandoned baby) for making the main character deal with suc
...more
Mark
British singer-songwriter John Wesley Harding is a master at cramming verbose stories into fun three-minute pop songs.British novelist Wesley Stace doesn't have the benefit of a bouncy beat, so it takes him 544 pages to tell his story in Misfortune. Even so, Stace's debut novel moves along quickly thanks to his engaging storytelling. This isn't surprising since John Wesley Harding is the musical alias of one Welsey Stace.

A little identity crisis? Maybe, but it's nothing compared to what Rose, th
...more
Nancy Oakes
I bought this book because I was intrigued by the teaser on the dust jacket. it was well worth all of the time I spent on it. If you can get over the fact that the book is 500+ pages, you will find it to be one of the best books to hit the bookstore shelves in a long time.

I'll try to synopsize the story briefly, but what sucked me in was not so much the story, but the beautiful and well-constructed prose. You can just tell that the author had a great deal of fun simply writing the novel.

"brief"
...more
EMM
I was looking forward to reading this book, thinking of it as a kind of treat. For the most part, it wasn't. How dare this book not be fun? For starters, take that title at its word. Then don't be taken in by the first chapter. It's not in keeping with the rest of the book. There is a point of view switch and a shift in storytelling style, and it's all downhill from there. Often the book wallows in the dreary and the boring and that makes for some tedious reading. The protagonist spends big chun ...more
Emily Graves
I'm reviewing this book mainly because it's one of my favorite books of all time and I think it's horribly underrated.

Disclaimer: I'm a sucker for Victorian and pseudo-Victorian foundling stories. This is that. But it's so much more. It's a story of love of literature, research, lost and found identities, and friendship and love.

The elements of body-horror and gender discovery may be too much for some, but it's all very tastefully done. The prose alone is gorgeous and the plot structure is impec
...more
Beth Cavanaugh
This book was so fantastic! Utterly strange, but in a familiar historical-fiction style. Witty and clever, beautiful and sad, so, so, so interesting. It does drag a bit in the middle when the main character goes on a bit of a quest, but it picks back up again and comes full circle. Unlike anything I've ever read, but as I said rooted in a familiar style so it doesn't feel like you're reading something too out there. It is set in a grand estate (think Downton Abbey), where the ailing matriarch is ...more
Quigui
I am not sure how I came about this book. It might have been a recommendation for another book, or simply finding the cover somewhere and being drawn to it (how could I not, there is a woman with a moustache!). In any case, it was an absolute find!

Set in the 19th century it tells the story of Rose Old Loveall, from birth to death, in a memoir style, and with very quirky language. What makes this book different? Well, Rose is found by the Young Lord Loveall after being left for dead in a rubbish
...more
Alistair Baird
This is the story of Rose Old, and how, from dire beginnings (as a baby found atop a rubbish dump), she ascended to the title of Lord Loveall and untold wealth and privilege. As one might suspect from the books title however, not all goes well for Rose and her family. Born male but raised as a girl by a delusional, but loving father, and a mother eager to indulge in sociological experimentation, Roses life of pleasure and ease not to mention her gender, remain the status quo until Rose reaches p ...more
Sarah B.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Marvin
A wonderfully quirky novel set on a 19th-century English estate, where an eccentric lord rescues a male infant from a garbage heap & raises him as a girl. It's a story about how love overcomes obstacles of character & nature & of the benefits of accepting what life throws at us, compelling us to choose the life that is chosen for us.
Clair Belmonte
This is one of the best contemporary novels that I have read in a long time, and I would recommend it to anyone. It certainly possesses that 19th century classic novel feel, with the woven complications and the aristocratic concerns. However, this book is just strange enough to keep itself from falling into a classic remake.
This isn't a parody; this is taking familiar Victorian ideals and settings while discussing contemporary issues. This is a wonderful book to add to the mix of LGBTQ discussi
...more
Peter Krakow
The Victorian Gender Bender Novel to end all Victorian Gender Bender novels. Wesley Stace is one very clever, naughty boy. EVERYTHING about this book was stupefyingly enjoyable. I laughed, I cried, I took a lot of showers. The Washignton Post blurb on the book jacket describes it best - " A fun book ... full of orphans, decadence, flouncy skirts, greed, deception, amnesia, incest, murder, and all manner of meditation on sexual identity . . . Like some inspired collaboration between Charles Dicke ...more
Justine
seriously hated this book
Melissa Conner
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Methodtomadness
Though the first section of Misfortune initially appears to be rather uninspiring Dickensian parody, hang in there, for the book takes a radical turn in style, point of view, and plot in the ensuing sections and becomes much more likable in the process. You could loosely slot Misfortune in with Middlesex and Orlando in the "gender issues" fiction genre, and while the tale *is* heavily centered on Lord/Lady Rose Loveall's internal conflict over his/her gender, there's much more to the story than ...more
Robyn
If you, like me, have studied anything to do with gender and sexuality, and the psychology behind these theories, then you will find this book fascinating. At its core, it tells the story of a boy who is raised to believe he is a girl by his strange adoptive father who had lost his beloved sister as a child, and wished to replace her. On top of this there are innumerable sub-plots, side-stories and extra information, which all tie together in the end, but are tiring to wade through before you ge ...more
Michael Martin
Wesley Stace may be better known to you as the British singer-songwriter John Wesley Harding (who I have been fortunate enough to see perform live several times).

What you might not know is that Stace is an amazing novelist. His novel "Misfortune" concerns the story of an abandoned male baby brought into an English estate home as the heir of the quirky Lord Loveall. Grieving the loss of his adored sister, Loveall decides to raise this "heir" as an "heiress", disguising him as ROSE Loveall.

This is
...more
Marigold
Oh how I wish there were "half stars"! This gets a three AND A HALF - I liked it more than average - but I can't quite go up to four stars. It seems like everyone nowadays who writes a less-than-serious novel about 19th century England finds their book characterized as a "Dickensian romp," but this really is! It's the story of Rose, who is rescued from a trash heap as a tiny baby, & brought up by the richest man in England - Lord Geoffrey Loveall - who raises her as a girl, when in fact biol ...more
Cari
I had high expectations for "Misfortune," because I loved Stace's "By George" so much. I was not disappointed. This wonderful novel (his first!) is at times a farce, often plays near "fairy tale" without anything too sticky sweet, and is written with great finesse and care. Writing a short summary is beyond me - like "By George," "Misfortune" defies pithy description in the way any excellent novel should. However, some key elements (in my mind) for those considering a read, "Misfortune:" takes p ...more
Prom
I picked this book up on a whim because, as you're not supposed to do, I was judging this book strictly by its cover. As I made my other purchases, I hadnt even bothered to read the front inside cover to see what this was about at all. I was to be in for a very pleasant surprise.

The verbose descriptions, not only of atmosphere, but also of character and feeling, only added to the magnitude of the readers experience. Im not normally one for such detailed explanation, but the writings on such thin
...more
Claire
This book is really bizarre. It's good, but it's bizarre. The back cover describes it as a cross between Charles Dickens and Pedro Almodovar (which I so thought would be right up my alley) and it definitely was exactly that. It's witty, sexy, quirky and intelligent satire a la Almodovar (if you liked "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!", this book shares that same sick-and-twisted-and-sexy-and-funny vibe), while also managing to be earthy and gritty and, well, Dickensian. So I really can't think of any rea ...more
Stacy Milacek
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Travis
This is such an awesome book! How to describe it? Set in England in the early 1800s, it's basically the story of Rose, who was abandoned in the trash as a baby and found by Geoffroy Loveall, a rich young lord who decides to raise the baby as his daughter and heir. The only problem is, Rose is a boy. Geoffroy refuses to believe this when various people try to tell him, so eventually everyone just decides to go along with it. Rose is raised as a girl and doesn't know he's really a boy until he's i ...more
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The Music 1 9 Apr 04, 2008 07:05PM  
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Wesley Stace also records music under the nom de plume of John Wesley Harding.
More about Wesley Stace...
By George Charles Jessold, Considered As A Murderer Wonderkid: A Novel Wonderkid By George

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“You are undoubtedly of the opinion that men are superior to women. Esmond?”
“Well, I…”
“You are wrong. Eve is superior because she was created after Adam. God didn’t take backward steps, so Eve must be an improvement.”
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“Within the walls of Love Hall, Lord Loveall could command this kind of respect.” 1 likes
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