Mr Locke’s Diary is the debut novella from author Joseph Clarke. It was published in March of 2014 by Nocturnal Press Publications. As a good friend of the author I was asked to read and review this novel,
The books focuses on the life of a young, Victorian maid, Miss Jane Keyes, in the service of Mr Locke who ends up dressing as a man when her master disappears. She tries to find him but during the time she is dragged into a life of debauchery and vice. Enjoying her new role too much she ends up being caught and locked in an asylum.
The book is split into two parts and I honestly think that the first part was a lot better than the second. But this could be because the first part deals with a straightforward narrative and the second left me more than a little confused. The first part deals with the young woman’s foray into the man’s world as she tries to find her missing employer and it shows her attitudes to the way that women aren’t afford the same standing in the world and how women are not allowed to go to university. This seems to have been done with the intention of criticising the society at the time and perhaps with a value to shock contemporary readers.
During this section of the novela we are shown a new and exciting world through the eyes of the Jane and how she finds excitement in something totally unknown to women at the time. The search for Mr Locke is filled with danger as she has to pretend to multiple people that she is herself an investigator looking into the disappearances of many girls. Towards the end of part 1 she is found out and taken to an asylum where many of the wealthy men have been forcing girls to go so that they have been able to have their way with them and no one would believe the poor girls story.
The second part starts off somewhat confusingly. In the middle of this part Jane takes a pill and then she is transported to some sort of purgatory like state where she has to punish those who have wronged her in life. I really didn’t understand it as it didn’t really seem to have much sense to it especially as Jane wakes up to find that Mr Locke had never really disappeared and had in fact created the disappearance as a ruse to get her in the asylum she he could pay for her to get out of it and he could do what he liked with it.
Although I liked some aspects of the story I feel that it could have done with a few more chapters as the shift in Jane’s personality comes on a little too fast and the weird purgatory scene could have had some form of explanation in it somewhere. However, I do think that perhaps I was looking at the story in the sense of something that would be more for entertainment than for criticism. But with only a few people having read the book I’m not sure what other interpretations there are.
If anyone has read this book and wants to let me know what they think then don’t hesitate to leave a comment or find me at my social media!
Rating: 3/5 stars