Montmorency – Thief, Liar, Gentleman?

montmorency-thief-liar-gentleman-eleanor-updale-hardcover-cover-artI’ve attempted to read Montmorency by Eleanor Updale thrice in the last few months. I’d always read the first few chapters and put it down because I was either too preoccupied with something else or not in the mood for such a story. I’d pretty much come to a conclusion that this was probably going to be one of those books that I’ll never read, and it should be returned to its owner. However, on my last attempt, I finished the book in an hour or two.

Once I got past the first few chapters, I was transported into the story.

Montmorency is a thief in London, 1875 who, fleeting from the police, is fatally injured. However, a brilliant surgeon sews him together thus saving his life and making Montmorency quite the medical miracle. The thief soon becomes a star exhibit at medical gatherings and it is in one of those gatherings that he hears about the new sewer system added to the town.

Montmorency starts brewing a plan; once he’s out of prison, he would use the new sewer system as an escape route for his future robberies.

Once he is free he takes on two identities:  wealthy and sophisticated Montmorency,  and his servant, Scarper. While Montmorency lives the good life by day, Scarper slithers around in sewers, performing multiple robberies by night.

Though I had trouble getting through the first few chapters (God knows why), I really did enjoy this book. I loved the contrast between the two identities Montmorency develops for himself. It almost has a dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde vibe.

The story also has a few other interesting characters, though not highly developed, such as Cissie, a clingy gold-digger who hangs around the hotel in hopes of getting in a relationship with a rich man, and Fox-Selwyn, Montmorency’s friend and confidant.

In my opinion, Montmorency is a great story for mature children as well as adults. Its writing is simple enough for a child to comprehend but still sophisticated enough for older readers; and where it might lack in writing, it makes up for in the plot.

Montmorency is the first in a series, one I’d love to continue on with. The books take practically no time read, with their very few pages and huge font, which entices me further to read the whole series. I’d suggest you give it a try too…

“Think about it, old boy. All your prospective accomplices are criminals!”

-Professor Humbley, Montmorency by Eleanor Updale