The past, too, inhabits the rooms, a sensual, tactile past that reaches back over 200 years, to draw the two women into the succession of sexual encounters that must be relived before they can be understood.
Set exclusively on London’s Isle of Dogs, a tiny patch of land that has seen countless changes over the centuries, Below Blue London is a seamless combination of explicit erotic detail and expert historical documentation.
Sweeping from Yuppie brokers to Victorian dockers, from the desperation of poverty to the complacency of wealth, from the horror of the London Blitz to the luxury of the Royal Court, Below Blue London is an historical epic like no other.
TCM REVIEWS: Not so much the tale of one city, as the saga of several, Below Blue London collects ten very different, but irrevocably inter-woven stories, each one set in a very different era, but all with the same locale in common, a patch of land in London’s east end where something happened. What, when and even why it was, we won’t discover until later… the book opens in the present day, then works its way back, a few decades at a time, to the early 1800s. Then it rockets precipitously forwards again, to an orbiting space station 25 years from now, looking down on the drowned remains of a globally warmed-up London. But the ruins still remember their heritage, just as they always have.
The first chapter, “Old Times,” sets the stage, as a young female journalist moves into a new development in what used to be London’s docklands, to find her room-mate, and their nights, disturbed by what can only be described as ripples from the past, the sight, sound and sensations of other people making love. Hungry to get to the bottom of the phenomenon, they trace the history of the area and, in so doing, build up a portrait of a society and culture that modern progress simply swept away, but which was far more alive than any world that replaced it.
Chapter two takes us back to the yuppie-fied 1980s, and the slow redevelopment of this so-historic area; chapter three to the horrors of the London blitz, and its destruction. And from thereon, every chapter in turns adds another layer of explanation to what we witnessed in the opening pages, and another layer of mystery as well. Names begin to recur, some of them the families that lived in the rabbit warren of streets that once covered the neighbourhood, others are simply visiting – a once legendary soccer player, winding down his career with the local club, a soon-to-be-legendary author, building up his… you will never consider Charles Dickens in the same light after reading this book. Or Thomas Nashe. The introduction to Below Blue London speaks briefly of a play that the famed Elizabethan playwright wrote and saw performed just once, and which was then suppressed for reasons unknown. Chapter Eight rediscovers it.
A happy hooker; a pious evangelist; a young girl spending her last night in London before travelling to India to marry her sweetheart; a gypsy queen and an African sorceress. All pass through these pages, a bright and brilliant cavalcade of exquisitely drawn figures who each leave such an impression on the so fertile soil around them that, even without the explicitly detailed sex that will probably be this book’s chief selling point, Below Blue London would be a masterful creation. With it, it emerges as one of the most spellbinding erotic novels of the year so far, and one that deserves an audience as vast as the panorama that it covers.
AMY HANSON, EXAMINER.COM: Philadelphia author Chrissie Bentley has been described as one of America’s foremost erotic writers and a visit to her website will show you why. But she also has a sound historical knowledge, and a firm grip on the supernatural, and it is these talents that raise Below Blue London so high.
Set in London’s docklands area over the course of 400 years, Bentley traces the story of a single plot of land as successive builders and developers transform it from a boggy wasteland in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, through the private home of a wealthy professor, a rough dockside bar, a run-down curiosity shop, a sad and sordid slum, a bored housewife’s makeshift bordello, a bomb-site and, today, a luxury apartment building. And it is in the present day that the story begins, as two room mates discover they are sharing their home with a most peculiar presence – the spirit of raw sexuality.
At first, the story traces their efforts to discover more about their home; before looping back to explore the home itself, a dazzling parade of past residences and visitors, among whom author Charles Dickens is only the best-known. His involvement with the specters that haunt the site is simultaneously uproarious and arousing, and will almost certainly leave the reader reaching for some of Dickens’ own ghost stories. The subject matter may be very dissimilar, but not so the spell that the story weaves.
Characters are painted in vivid slashes of color and life, and fresh surprises unfold with as much explosive drama as the wartime bombs that shatter the house … and, indeed, the entire neighborhood… in 1940. And every one of them leaves its mark on the landscape, every one adds a whole new layer to the mystery.
Below Blue London is a ferociously erotic book, pulling no punches in either language or descriptions. But look beyond, or around, those attractions, and this is a story that will live long in your imagination.