Olivia Twist: A Dark Past, A Glittering Future, And The World Between Them
By Lorie Langdon
Blink/HarperCollins; hardcover; $18.99
Lorie Langdon has won critical acclaim and created a legion of fans for her skill at telling compelling stories that come from her passion for the theatre, music, and classic literature.
Langdon, known for being the co-author of the popular Doon series, books for young adults inspired by the musical Brigadoon, has now created Olivia Twist, a gender-swapping reimagining of the Charles Dickens classic Oliver Twist.
An eight-year old Langdon saw the musical Oliver! on stage and was captivated by the story of a young street urchin who joins a gang of pickpockets on the streets of London.
Later on, she wondered what the story would be like if a young woman had the title role, a girl who defied the stereotypes of the Victorian Age as they were often portrayed, who was tough and cunning and brave.
Langdon created the heroine Olivia Twist to be at the center of this historical young adult novel filled with adventure, intrigue, romance, and authentic details of 19th century London.
Olivia was born in a workhouse and raised a boy among thieving street gangs, so she is certainly not a damsel in distress.
The arc of Olivia’s life is forever changed when she is taken in by a long-lost uncle, Mr. Brownlow, after a caper gone wrong, her life goes from fighting to survive on the streets to attending high-society soirees.
The thing is she can’t seem to escape her past life of being a thief or turn her back on the less fortunate children in the slums who are still scraping by.
Jack MacCarron, who was once known as the Artful Dodger, has also risen from London’s gangs to become the adopted “nephew” of a society matron, but he too cannot escape his past. Little do the socialites know that he and his “aunt” are ribbing them blind every chance they get.
When Jack meets Olivia, his curiosity is piqued, and his heart follows suit. As he attempts to understand why a society girl would risk her status to help homeless, orphaned thieves, he must confront his deep feelings for Olivia, who he finds strangely familiar.
In a world characterized by double-lives and double-crosses, Olivia and Jack must make the most important decision they’ve ever faced.
Is sacrificing the posh lives they have won for themselves worth it for true love?
This compelling adventure is a heart-rending love story for the ages, definitely a must-read for anyone that wonders what classics would be like in a modern light.