Buy this book at
To Past Reviews Index
Back to Last Page

The Journal of Dora Damage

Belinda Starling

Average Review Rating Average Rating 910 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Bloomsbury Publishing

Published : 2007

Copyright : Belinda Starling 2007

ISBN-10 : PB 0-7475-9325-6
ISBN-13 : PB 978-0-7475-9325-6

Publisher's Write-Up

This work is set in Lambeth, London, in the year 1859. By the time Dora Damage discovers that there is something wrong with her husband, Peter, it is too late. His arthritic hands are crippled, putting his book-binding business into huge debt and his family in danger of entering the poorhouse. Summoning her courage, Dora proves that she is more than just a housewife and mother. Taking to the streets, she resolves to rescue her family at any price - and finds herself illegally binding expensive volumes of pornography commissioned by aristocrats.

Then, when a mysterious fugitive slave arrives at her door, Dora realises she's entangled in a web of sex, money, deceit and the law. Now the very family she fought so hard for is under threat from a host of new, more dangerous foes.

Belinda Starling's debut novel is a startling vision of Victorian London, juxtaposing its filth and poverty with its affluence. In Dora Damage we meet a daring young heroine, struggling in a very modern way against the constraints of the day, and whose resourcefulness and bravery have us rooting for her all the way.

Column Ends


Reader Reviews

Why not Submit a Review your own Review for this book?

Review by Anne Cater (080309) Rating (9/10)

Review by Anne Cater
Rating 9/10
Belinda Starling grasps you by the hand and pulls the reader into Victorian London from the very first page of this fantastic story.

Dora Damage takes over her ill husband’s book binding business in 1860. Although this is frowned upon by her neighbours and associates, Dora is determined to make a living for her family. She is soon to find herself binding pornographic books on the orders of the aristocracy. Very quickly Dora finds herself caught up in lawlessness, slavery, bare knuckle fighting, sex and money.

Dora's Journal conjures up Victorian London excellently, the filth, the smell, the poverty, the perversity of the rich and the misery of the poor.

The history of book binding is fascinating and well researched. The issues of family values and the freedom from slavery are dealt with sensitively and also with a passion and in vivid explanation.

I devoured this book in three days and truly did not want it to end, but was just as keen to find out the fate of Dora, her daughter Lucinda, Din the negro slave and Lady Sylvia.

It was with real sadness that I read that Belinda Starling died soon after completing the book. This is an excellent first novel, on a par with Sarah Waters, it is a great loss that we will not be able to enjoy further novels from this wonderful author.
Anne Cater (8th March 2009)

Back to Top of Page
Column Ends