Welcome to the November 26th review stop on the blog tour for The Adventures of Tom Finch, Gentleman by Lucy May Lennox, organized by Audiobookworm Promotions. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for an audio excerpt, spotlights, character profiles, author and narrator interviews, and other reviews! I’ve placed the tour schedule at the end of this post.
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About the Book
The Adventures of Tom Finch, Gentleman
by Lucy May Lennox
Published 12 November 2019
Page Count: 419
Audiobook released 10 October 2020
Narrated by Duke DeFoix, Duchess DeFoix, Olivia Featherton, Earl Tyrone
Length: 14 hours 56 minutes
Genre: Historical Fiction
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
London, 1735. Covent Garden offers a world of pleasures and diversions, even for a blind man. Tom Finch approaches life with boundless good cheer and resilience, whether he’s pursuing a musical career or pursuing women. And as for his blindness, to him it’s merely an inconvenience.
Join Tom for a picaresque romp through high and low Georgian society among rakes, rovers, thieving whores and demi-reps, highway robbers, bigamists, and duelists, bisexual opera divas, castrati, mollies, and cross-dressers, lecherous aristocrats, and headstrong ladies. This meticulously researched, witty and lively tale overturns stereotypes about disability and revels in the spectacle and excitement of 18th century opera.
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
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Overall 3.5, rounded to 4 for the star system.
Story 4, audiobook performance 3.
Tom is the b*stard son of an English nobleman, educated and given the best chances possible at the insistence of his aunt Lady Grey, but spared the fate of military service like his other half brothers due to his blindness. Free to pursue whatever career he wished, Tom chose the arts, and we meet him as the music master at a local opera house and a notorious “lady’s man.” Somehow he manages to stray around the British Isles and the continent, find love, lose it, fall victim to robbery, and always land back on his feet.
I really liked Tom and Lady Grey in particular, in terms of characters in this book. Tom is optimistic, resourceful, and quite clever. Lady Grey is stubborn, righteous, and endlessly generous and caring. Beyond these two, however, I found it difficult to keep track of who was who. All other female characters, especially while the story is in England, just seem to blend together. Sometimes they love Tom, sometimes they love each other, sometimes they love nobody, but they all feel defined by who they love and how Tom feels about them. The other men are easier to keep track of (Tom’s Lord father, Tom’s maternal uncle, Tom’s friend Jem, the owners/managers of the opera houses,) perhaps because they don’t overlap as much as the ladies.
I thoroughly enjoyed the peek into 18th-century society and arts culture that this book affords us, and the humorously honest way medicine is presented was a treat for this history buff. I love how skeptical Tom is of some of the more misguided ideas of doctors in this book, such as bloodletting. Disability in the 18th century is certainly not a topic I’ve studied, but the way people react to Tom doesn’t seem too far off to me. On one hand, sometimes it feels like characters are a little too accepting and unbothered about the man’s blindness (especially for a society that still believes in bloodletting), but on the other hand it’s generally known that he’s the b*stard son of a nobleman and that probably affords him a little more social charity and acceptance.
It becomes a running joke in this book that nobody understands how a blind man manages to live in a house that he keeps in such disarray and I get the feeling that we the readers are supposed to just laugh along with the characters and move on, but this is something I haven’t been able to accept and leave alone. I have never met an untidy blind person, let alone one who lives independently, so I don’t buy it at all. It’s one thing that Tom’s house is cluttered, but he’s constantly telling his guests they can move something and put it wherever. This implies he doesn’t know where the clutter is in his own home because others are moving it around, and the story seems to agree, as some characters note that he adopts a shuffling gait while moving about his house. I just don’t believe any fiercely independent blind person, regardless of time or social standing, would live in a home that’s in a perpetual state of chaos.
In terms of narrative performance, I enjoyed the ensemble cast. Having a variety of voices to listen for certainly helped keep this huge cast in check (I imagine I might have been completely lost in regards to all the minor characters if I had read this one with my own eyes) and I appreciate the fact that the voices were distinctly male or female and offered an appropriate variety of accents. I was a little annoyed that French words used by English speakers weren’t pronounced correctly, though. French was the language of the nobility in England for most of the nation’s history, and like here in Canada, even the Commonwealth countries beyond the UK’s borders still pronounce French-origin words the French way. “Valet” is one such word that came up frequently. My only other complaint about the vocal performance is children’s’ voices. All child voices were excessively pitched up and given the same accent, regardless of who they were or which accent would have been appropriate. I’m not sure if different voice actors voiced child characters and just all did so in the same way or if one of the actresses did all of the child parts, but they all sounded like exactly the same character.
Overall this was a fun historical fiction with a plot unlike any I’ve ever encountered before, and I enjoyed it. I will certainly keep my eye out for this author in the future. Thank you to the author and Audiobookworm Promotions for complimentary access to the audiobook in exchange for this honest review.
Tom Finch: Composer of broadside ballads, music master and conductor in the opera houses around Covent Garden, London. Illegitimate son of a poxy earl and a commoner, raised by his uncle who gave him a thorough education in music, drinking, and seducing women. Blind since early childhood but independent and self-reliant, he gets about using echolocation, a walking stick, and a mental map of Covent Garden. Unflaggingly cheerful, good-natured and optimistic, given to libertinism and wantonness but finds his rake’s progress continually interrupted by his musical talent and innate decency…
Age 30 | Height 6’0 | Appearance:
Very thin and tall, with sandy brown hair worn long and tied in a queue, always dressed stylishly in a surcoat, brocade waistcoat, white hose, and tricorne hat
Tess Turnbridge: Aspiring opera diva with a burning ambition to become prima donna of the Theatre Royal. Daughter of a famous Italian soprano and an English composer. Recently returned to London, having left Naples under somewhat scandalous circumstances. Kind-hearted and level-headed, but not above giving into temptation, from either men or women…
Age 25 | Height 5’3 | Appearance:
Slender but very feminine, with dark brown curls and dark eyes, usually dressed in a robe a la francaise
Sally Salisbury: Infamous whore, part time pickpocket, shoplifter, and house breaker, with occasional forays into forgery and highway robbery. Fearless, fun-loving and with no pretense to polite manners, she lets most men know she’s only after their money. But she always treats Tom as an equal and without a trace of pity, and he can’t help but love her for it, even though he knows he shouldn’t trust her…
Age 25 or so (she’s not sure) | Height 5’7 | Appearance:
Tall and angular, not very feminine, lank blonde hair and blue eyes, sometimes dresses in men’s clothing
Jem Castleton: Tom’s crony and amanuensis, an unrepentant rogue, often found lushing it with the whores around Covent Garden, but also not averse to visiting a molly house.
Lady Sarah Grey: Tom’s dowager aunt and chief benefactor. A keen patron of the opera, she encourages his career but he often finds her aid is not without some emotional price.
Captain Philip Moorehouse, RN: Tom’s half-brother, another of the earl’s many illegitimate sons. Post captain without a ship. Closeted gay man in a relationship with a Marine captain.
Charlotte Carstone: Tom’s half-sister, one of the cast-off daughters of the earl’s first wife. Comes to Tom for aid in fleeing her abusive husband.
About the Author
Lucy May Lennox loves immersing herself in various historical periods and imagining the lives of people who don’t usually make it into the history books. A lifelong lover of classical and folk music, she has performed as a chorus member in operas and concerts in three countries, and once won first place in a sean nos (traditional Irish singing) contest. She lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest USA with her husband and children.
Growing up in a family devoted to the performing arts, Duke started his acting career a little later than expected. Since then he has performed internationally on both stage and screen. He has voiced characters in animated series, features, and video games.
He enjoys working with his lovely Duchess on audiobooks whenever he can find time away from galloping his trusty white stallion across the windswept moors, rescuing beautiful, clever, and passionate ladies in distress, and fighting sabre wielding brigands on the high seas.
The ensemble cast of this audiobook are employees of Her Grace Reads Studios.
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