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July 02 , 2010

The Road To Ignominy


Inspired by a real-life 19th century scandal, Clarke deftly writes about the privileged world of the Victorian upper-class, where Hugh is forced by his overbearing mother, Lady Lillian, to conform to society’s views concerning sex. Hugh’s inquisitive and rebellious nature leads Lady Lillian to send the innocent young man away to Thorndike Academy to be educated according to English etiquette. Instead, his schooldays ignited forbidden desires for an older student, Edmund. However, it would be Hugh’s affair with William, a working-class man, which would cause him so much angst as well as ecstasy. For a time, Hugh and William journey to the French Riviera, the scene of hedonistic delights, but also profound sadness and contempt. Moreover, what Lady Lillian feared – Hugh’s innocence becoming tainted – had come to pass, and this is reflected in his public disgrace and subsequent captivity in Reading Gaol. Rejected and Betrayed, Hugh’s life journey ultimately leads him to the dark, dingy rooms of an infamous boarding house, a place of unrestrained drug addiction and sensual pleasures as well as the site for murder.

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