Book Review: Money Power Love by Joss Sheldon

MoneyPowerLoveAbout the Book

Born on three adjacent beds, a mere three seconds apart, our three heroes are united by nature but divided by nurture. As a result of their different upbringings, they spend their lives chasing three very different things: Money, power and love.

This is a human story: A tale about people like ourselves, cajoled by the whimsy of circumstance, who find themselves performing the most beautiful acts as well as the most vulgar.

This is a historical story: A tale set in the early 1800s, which shines a light on how bankers, with the power to create money out of nothing, were able to shape the world we live in today.

And this is a love story: A tale about three men, who fall in love with the same woman, at the very same time…

Format: ebook, paperback (298 pp.)             Publisher:
Published: 7th October 2017                           Genre: Historical/Literary Fiction

Purchase Links*  ǀ  ǀ (supporting UK bookshops)
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find Money Power Love on Goodreads

My Review

Nominally set in the 1800s,  the author vividly depicts the sights and sounds of the London streets of the time, such as this description of traders taking advantage of the crowd gathered to witness a hanging.  ‘Surrounding this scrimmage, costermongers were selling just about anything which could be eaten, to just about anyone who could eat.  Their rickety barrows were overflowing with ice-cold oysters and burning hot eels; pies and puddings , crumpets and cough-drops, ginger-beer and gingerbread; pea soup, battered fish, sheep’s trotters, pickled whelks, baked potatoes, ice lollies, cocoa, and peppermint water.’ Characters such as Wilkins (surely the literary doppelganger of the Artful Dodger in Oliver Twist) could have come straight out of Dickens, as could many of the character names: Timothy Tyrrell, Bumble Blumstein. There’s even a sneaky reference to a famous opening line from Dickens: ‘They were the best of times.  They were the worst of times.’

Throughout the book, the author’s love of language – at one point a set of steps is described as ‘bodacious’ – and fondness for alliterative pairings is evident (as in the excerpt above).   At the same time, some of the language is deliberately anachronistic – fantabulous, mansplaining.   Readers will either find this amusing or irritating; I was in the former category most of the time.

All three main characters  – Hugo, Archibald and Mayer – have flaws and, despite being friends, their actions don’t always reflect this – especially when it comes to their rivalry for the affections of the same woman. None of the three are especially likeable but then they are really archetypes designed to illustrate the nature versus nurture debate and to demonstrate the consequences of being motivated by love (Hugo), power (Archibald) or money (Mayer).

Arguably, money plays the biggest part in the book as the author explores different forms of exchange that have been used over the centuries: barter, tally sticks, promissory notes.   At one point, Mayer muses: “Why, I’ve already heard of a new invention called ‘Cheques’.  Those could take off.  Maybe one day we’ll create token money, electronic money, or money spent on plastic cards.”   When his partner, Mr Bronze, protests that “money doesn’t grow on a magic money tree”, Mayer responds, “It does, Mr Bronze, and we bankers are its gardeners”.

Each chapter features an epigram from figures ranging from Mark Twain, to Confucius, to Banksy.  The story moves from Georgian London to Manchester, India, Van Diemen’s Land, China and Africa.   Along the way, through the stories of its three main protagonists, the book seeks to shed light on the worst excesses of colonialism and capitalism and to reveal the fragile foundations on which our financial systems are fabricated (note the alliteration please).

The motives of financial institutions and governments are ruthlessly exposed by the author. Here’s Mayer again: “We need charity; it compensates for the worst excesses of capitalism, without challenging the system itself.  It’s an investment which pays dividends; protecting capital from civil unreset.”  And again: “Wars are only ever fought to open up new markets, control resources and amass wealth.  All wars are bankers’ wars.”

Money Power Love is a surreal, satirical romp written with real verve and wit.  By turns funny, challenging, inventive, didactic and thought-provoking, it’s quite unlike any other book I’ve read, which did pose some problems when it came to my ‘Try something similar’ recommendation below*.

Now I’ve finished Money Power Love, I don’t know whether to go and eat some trifle, invest in bitcoins, invade a small country, go mudlarking or buy a backscratcher.  If that sentence intrigues you, why not pick up a copy of the book using one of the purchase links above.

I received a review copy courtesy of the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

*For some reason I can’t quite put my finger on, while I was reading the book I kept thinking of the film Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) starring Dennis Price and Alec Guinness.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

In three words: Imaginative, witty, satirical

Try something (possibly not at all) similar…The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling by Henry Fielding or Orlando by Virginia Woolf

Joss SheldonAbout the Author

Joss Sheldon is a scruffy nomad, unchained free-thinker, and post-modernist radical. Born in 1982, he was brought up in one of the anonymous suburbs which wrap themselves around London’s beating heart. Then he escaped!  With a degree from the London School of Economics to his name, Sheldon had spells selling falafel at music festivals, being a ski-bum, and failing to turn the English Midlands into a haven of rugby league.

Then, in 2013, he ran off to McLeod Ganj; an Indian village which plays home to thousands of angry monkeys, hundreds of Tibetan refugees, and the Dalai Lama himself. It was there that Sheldon wrote his debut novel, Involution & Evolution.  With several positive reviews to his name, Sheldon had caught the writing bug. He travelled to Palestine and Kurdistan, where he researched his second novel, Occupied, a dystopian masterpiece unlike any other story you’ve ever read.

It was with his third novel, The Little Voice, that Sheldon really hit the big time, topping the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, and gaining widespread critical acclaim.  Now Sheldon has returned with his fourth and most ambitious novel yet. Money Power Love is a literary mélange of historical, political and economic fiction; a love story that charts the rise of the British Empire, and the way in which bankers, with the power to create money out of nothing, were able to shape the world we live in today.

Joss’s latest novel, Individutopia, was published in August 2018.

Connect with Joss

Wikipedia | Website  ǀ  Facebook  ǀ  Twitter  ǀ  Blog  ǀ Goodreads


Blog Tour/Book Review: The Angel’s Mark by S. W. Perry

The Angels Mark Blog Tour poster

I’m delighted to be hosting today’s stop on the blog tour for historical crime novel, The Angel’s Mark by S. W. Perry.  Many thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to participate in the tour.

The Angel's MarkAbout the Book

LONDON, 1590. Queen Elizabeth I’s control over her kingdom is wavering. Amidst a tumultuous backdrop of Spanish plotters, Catholic heretics and foreign wars threatening the country’s fragile stability, the body of a small boy is found in the City of London, with strange marks that no one can explain.

When idealistic physician Nicholas Shelby finds another body displaying the same marks only days later, he becomes convinced that a killer is at work, preying on the weak and destitute of London.

Determined to find out who is behind these terrible murders, Nicholas is joined in his investigations by Bianca, a spirited tavern keeper. But when their inquiries lead them to the fearsome attentions of the powerful Robert Cecil, Nicholas is forced into playing to Cecil’s agenda, and becoming a spy…

As more bodies are discovered, the pair find themselves caught in the middle of a sinister plot. With the killer still at large, and Bianca in terrible danger, Nicholas’s choice seems impossible – to save Bianca, or save himself…

Praise for The Angel’s Mark

‘A gorgeous book – rich, intelligent and dark in equal measure. It immerses you in the late 16th century and leaves you wrung out with terror. This is historical fiction at its most sumptuous.’ Rory Clements, author of Corpus, Nucleus and the John Shakespeare series

‘Wonderful! Beautiful writing, and Perry’s Elizabethan London is so skilfully evoked, so real that one can almost smell it.’ Giles Kristian, historical fiction author

‘The Angel’s Mark has the pace of a thriller… S.W. Perry is a welcome addition to the ranks of historical crime novelists.’ Simon Brett, crime novelist

Format: Hardcover, ebook (424 pp.)    Publisher: Corvus
Published: 6th September 2018            Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Crime

Purchase Links*  ǀ  ǀ (supporting UK bookshops)
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find The Angel’s Mark on Goodreads

My Review

When a book comes with a glowing recommendation from a respected author of historical fiction like Rory Clements (whose ‘John Shakespeare’ series I absolutely love by the way), you have a real sense of expectation as you turn the first few pages.  I’m happy to say that in the case of The Angel’s Mark those first few pages – and all the pages after that, as it happens – didn’t disappoint.

As other writers of historical fiction have discovered, the latter part of the 16th century is a promising period in which to set a historical crime novel.  Fear of the plague, of plots to overthrow the Queen as well as concerns about the succession and the threat of possible invasion have created an atmosphere of suspicion in Elizabethan England.   It’s a time when information, in the form of intelligence gathered by a network of spies and informers, has become a valuable commodity.    It’s also a time when discoveries in science and medicine are coming into conflict with religious belief.

Personal tragedy, fueled by a sense of guilt at his inability to prevent it, has brought Nicholas Shelby to the point of despair when he chances upon a mystery that reawakens his physician’s curiosity; that, and a fortunate encounter with the independent-minded and resourceful Bianca Merton, owner of The Jackdaw tavern.  However, as the reader will discover, it’s not just her skills as an apothecary that Bianca must hide.  Together they embark on a search for a killer with a distinctive but gruesome calling card.  Soon that search brings them into contact with powerful men (it would be a surprise in a novel set in this period not to run into a member of the Cecil family at some point!) who may pose as much of a risk as does the ruthless killer they are seeking.

The Angel’s Mark has all the ingredients I look for in a great historical crime mystery: a wealth of period of detail that conjures up the sight, sounds and smells of the time; a host of colourful characters to provide possible suspects; and a plot full of twists and turns with a generous helping of red herrings and “I wasn’t expecting that” moments.  It kept me guessing right to the end.  I’m definitely hoping for more of the same from this author in the future.

I received a review copy courtesy of publishers, Corvus, NetGalley and Readers First in return for an honest and unbiased review.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

In three words: Gripping, atmospheric, mystery

Try something similar…Martyr (John Shakespeare#1) by Rory Clements or The Secret of Vesalius by Jordi Llobregat (read my spoiler free review of the latter here)

S W Perry Author PictureAbout the Author

S.W. Perry was a journalist and broadcaster before retraining as an airline pilot.

He lives in Worcestershire with his wife and two spaniels.

Connect with S. W. Perry

Twitter  ǀ  Goodreads