My new Victorian gothic novel is called The Fascination. It was published on June 22nd and became an instant Sunday Times Best Seller. 

It's a book that became very important to me - being about finding acceptance in a world where anyone different is at risk of scorn or abuse, or used for entertainment purposes. The story has settings in the Victorian rural fairgrounds, the glamour of the London theatres, and an anatomy museum in a shop in Oxford Street, based on one that did exist, which you can read about here. The plot surrounds twin sisters, Tilly and Keziah Lovell, identical in every way except that one of them stopped growing at the age of only five ... and in due course her size and beauty draws a lot of attention; not all of it desirable. 

I've written a few posts already that detail some of my research. One of them was about Princess Lottie, a tiny midget of a woman who found fame in touring 'freak shows', drew the attention of Karen Coles when I posted it on Twitter. Karen wrote to me with photos from an album in her family - one that was presented to her great great grandmother back in the Victorian era. 

Barnum and General Tom Thumb

When I saw the photographs I noticed something familiar - recognising Charles Stratton who performed as General Tom Thumb in P T Barnum's touring circus, and who I've written about previously on the Virtual Victorian. How and why Karen's relation came to be in possession of the photographs is something of a mystery, but what a historical treasure. And a dedication from Stratton himself!

The Fascination is published on June 22 by Orenda Books. Pre-order from the publisher, via Amazon, or through your local bookshop. There are really beautiful special signed copies for the independent bookshops, and the novel will be featured as the book of the month for the Goldsboro Books June Premier edition. The audio book will be narrated by Lucy Scott.

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