Lord Geoffrey Loveall is the richest man in England, reclusive, and heretofore heirless lord of the sprawling manse of Love Hall. He arrives home one fateful morning with a most unusual package—a baby that he presents as the inheritor to the family name and fortune. In honour of his beloved sister, who died at the age of five, Loveall names the baby Rose Old. The household, relieved at the continuation of the Loveall line, assiduously ignores the fact that this Rose has a thorn ... that she is, in fact, a boy.
Rose grows up inside the endlessly fascinating maze of halls and lawns that make up Love Hall, along with the two inquisitive and ebullient servant children who are her only friends; all three are educated by Rose’s adoptive mother Anonyma in the musty recesses of the Octagonal Library. Rose grows up blissfully unaware of her own gender, casually hitting boundaries at Love Hall's yearly cricket game and learning to shave her face even as she continues to wear more and more elaborate dresses, as befits a growing young lady. Until, of course, the fateful day when Rose's world comes crashing down around her, and she is banished from Love Hall as an impostor by those who would claim her place as heir.
Filled with unexpected plot twists, outrageous characters, odd details and a vivid, velvety historical background, this is an epic, Dickensian story. Fanciful, whimsical and wry, it is also a moving meditation on the agony of adolescence and the universal difficulty of determining one's identity. Set in the early years of the nineteenth century, and an England at once as believable as Sarah Waters’s and as grotesque as Mervyn Peake’s, Misfortune is a gothic novel for our times—a huge, rich, funny, exciting work of fiction that is destined to become a classic.
Praise for ‘Misfortune’
“Readers starved for a good old-fashioned novel—with a hint of kink—will gleefully devour Misfortune, the ribald, rollicking tale of a boy raised as a girl Both in song and in print, Stace is a master of wordplay—nearly every page of Misfortune seems to contain some sly wink at the attentive reader A second read seems almost imperative to absorb all (or most) of the novel’s nuances—the first time around you’re busy just enjoying the ride.”
“Impressive I read Misfortune with great excitement, astonished by its verve and sense of literary history.”
“Stace uncorks a ripping transsexual romp set in Romantic-era England, and it reads like some inspired collaboration between Charles Dickens and Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar: full of orphans, decadence, flouncy skirts, greed, deception, amnesia, incest, murder, religious and social intolerance, ballads, books, letters, wild farce, and all manner of meditation on sexual identity. It calls to mind another regal androgyne, Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, though not as literary or as tiresome. Rose Old, a.k.a. Miss Fortune, is just the kind of narrator an old-fashioned yarn needs: one who makes you suspend disbelief not just willingly but with great enthusiasm.”
“Sparkling loopily Dickensian poignantly and mordantly funny Stace has written a very jolly picaresque Misfortune augurs a most auspicious debut.”
“Stace’s writing is so casually virtuosic that it’s breathtaking Writing like this is a guilty pleasure, but you never for one moment forget you are in a story being told by a stylist with a keen sense of the grotesque. Stace’s pacing is dead-on.”
“In its scope, ambition, and wealth of detail Misfortune is a remarkable debut from a promising new writer.”
“Blend Tristram Shandy with Hedwig and the Angry Inch and you have something of the spirit of this spirited tale: a most promising debut.”
“A delightfully diverting pastiche of a nineteenth-century melodrama crinolinishly convoluted. Stace’s attention to every detail is a delight, and he revels in the richly embroidered language of his period It’s difficult not to skim along with it, even as you want to savor each linguistically filigreed contrivance.”
“This lengthy and involved tale makes for speedy reading. Best of all, Rose’s original narrative voice is engaging from the get-go: smart, funny, observant, and even hip.”
“A period page-turner.”
“Remember what novels used to be like? Remarkable witty and moving An amazingly accomplished debut novel.”
“I laughed, I cried, I swooned I even got the hiccups, though I don’t think those were caused by Misfortune. I loved this book very much. Do try it.”
“It’s a beaut Stace starts with a premise that easily could have been played for farce and winds up with characters, lives, and places that a reader comes to really care about.”