This the story of a half-wit, Barnaby, and how he was tricked into joining the Gordon Riots in London. Barnaby’s poor mother has a terrible secret and a dark past that haunts her. Other characters include gruff Mr. Willet, the village innkeeper, and his son, Joe, who is in love with the locksmith’s daughter, Dolly. At the same time, delicate Miss Haredale is involved in a forbidden courtship with the son of her uncle’s sworn enemy, and the star-crossed lovers ask Barnaby to pass messages and notes for them. The disgruntled apprentice, Simon Tappertit, and the unsavory stableboy, Hugh, are instrumental in inciting the London riots, along with a hangman named Dennis who conceals his true profession from his companions in the riots.
I hated this story so much. I could barely force myself to read to the end. Usually I LOVE Dickens, but this book has so many problems.
First of all, the riots themselves were first boring, then awful and disturbing. I got so bored with all the plotting and secrets from various bad guys throughout the first half of the book, and then I was disgusted with all the atrocities committed by the rioters in the second half. Ugh. Not enjoyable to read.