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February 22 , 2009

Charley Feather


In mid-18th Century England, now 14 year old highway robber Charley was born an orphan in Southwark, London, and learned to survive the hard way; having seen a succession of casual 'guardians' thrown in to jail or shipped off to the colonies or dying of typhoid. By the time she is ten years old, Charley has waved goodbye to the latest, pickpocket mother and decided to don shirt and breeches and look after herself from now on; a much easier job if she is disguised as a boy (a fact the reader only realises a chapter in). So Charley goes it alone. At the age of twelve, he/she is part of a notorious highway robber's gang run by the ruthless Jack Wild. Travelling with the gang all across England, Charley has already gained herself the plucky nickname of Charley Feather - because of her feather-light touch when picking pockets, and the dashing white ostrich feather she boldly sticks into her three-cornered hat. But when Jack Wild is cornered and captured by a rival gang in York, his own gang scatters; Charley finds herself on the run with another member, the dubiously called smooth-talking 'Frenchy', whose interests are not entirely selfless, naturally. By the time Charley realises she can trust neither Jack Wild nor Frenchy, she is already in deep trouble and so resorts to changing back into a girl and finding work as a maid. But it seems she cannot escape recognition and finds herself back in the clutches of Frenchy, who will spare her from Wild if she colludes with him in a treacherous plan against him. Charley doesn't know where to turn. Only her old friend Robert seems to truly care for her welfare, and he is believed drowned in the Thames. Will Charley escape Frenchy again? Is Robert truly dead? Will she ever find happiness...and a normal life? Read on and discover.
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