Review: The Women of Nell Gwynne’s by Kage Baker

Steampunk Challenge Review # 1

Steampunk challenge

The Women of Nell Gwynne'sThe 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 atrocities and had the audacity not to die! Fighting her way home she found the only path open to her was that of a street-walker. Providence intervened and found her a ‘home’ at Nell Gwynne’s – a house (brothel) for ladies like her, to employ their talents in service of the crown. Supplied with the latest technological gadgets by their brother organization, The Gentleman’s Speculative Society, the ladies set off to locate a missing member of the GSS and to determine what a mysterious Lord is offering to auction off to the highest bidder.

It is a shame that I’ve discovered Kage Baker only after her death. I understand that her Company novels are very good and that the GSS, is supposed to be a precursor to them. This is a novella which craves a sequel and while I understand there will be a short something out at the end of this month, they’ve appended it to the paperback edition. I hate when they do that! There are some books I’m quite happy to buy over and over, and while I did enjoy this very much, it just isn’t a must have multiple copies type book.

This title was nominated for a Hugo and I believe that it won the 2009 Nebula.

Side note:

The word pinion, was used both in this book and in the Steampunk novella I read a few days ago. In both cases to mean, to restrain a person by binding their arms.  I haven’t seen the word much and then twice in two days!

Victorian Fact:

The Great Exhibition was Prince Albert’s idea, held in 1851, it was wildly successful. The building it was housed in, the Crystal Palace, was made in sections before hand and assembled on the scene which “anticipated many building methods later used throughout the 20th century,” according to The Victorians (Backgrounds to English Literature) by Aidan Cruttenden (page 12).


The Steampunk Challenge is run by Rikki @ The Bookkeeper.

11 Responses

  1. I’ve heard so many good things about this book, but I thought it was a full length novel, not a novella? Doesn’t matter one way or the other, I was just curious.

    I too have a problem with buying books far faster than I can read them.

    • Nell Gwynne’s only weights in at 122 pages, and some of those are blank. It is out of print in hard cover, but the paperback is coming out with the new short story. Here’s the link to the publisher.

  2. Sounds good. I like the name of that Gentleman’s Speculative Society.
    Great idea to add a little Victorian fact and side note to the review. Informative!

  3. Oh, and thanks for mentioning my challenge at BOTNS. 🙂

    • No problem. I am really glad you started this because I’d been thinking about it for a while. I love BOTNS, and I think it would be neat if Ann and Michael did a podcast on Steampunk.

  4. I really liked your review of this novella. I’m just getting into steam punk (I have one novella under my belt) and I don’t really know where to look for any more titles in this genre. I will definitely give this a shot.

  5. […] Review: The Women of Nell Gwynne’s by Kage Baker […]

  6. I definitely have a tendency to acquire many more books than I can read. It’s worse because I used to work in a bookstore and now I work in publishing!

    As far as the book goes — how intriguing! I’m discovering all these great steampunk titles through this challenge … will be adding this to my TBR list. Sounds like something I might enjoy. A bit more frivolous than the heavy sci-fi steampunk.

  7. Kage left a half-finished sequel and copious notes. Her sister Kathleen is working on finishing the sequel – and if that succeeds, continuing with other tales Kage left her. She’s blogging about the process along with lots of memories of life with Kage:

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