Ｒａｔｉｎｇ：★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Olivia Brownlow is no damsel in distress. Born in a workhouse and raised as a boy among thieving London street gangs, she is as tough and cunning as they come. When she is taken in by her uncle after a caper gone wrong, her life goes from fighting and stealing on the streets to lavish dinners and soirees as a debutante in high society. But she can’t seem to escape her past … or forget the teeming slums where children just like her still scrabble to survive.
Jack MacCarron rose from his place in London’s East End to become the adopted “nephew” of a society matron. Little does society know that MacCarron is a false name for a boy once known among London gangs as the Artful Dodger, and that he and his “aunt” are robbing them blind every chance they get. When Jack encounters Olivia Brownlow in places he least expects, his curiosity is piqued. Why is a society girl helping a bunch of homeless orphan thieves? Even more intriguing, why does she remind him so much of someone he once knew? Jack finds himself wondering if going legit and risking it all might be worth it for love.
Olivia Twist is an innovative reimagining of Charles Dickens’ classic tale Oliver Twist, in which Olivia was forced to live as a boy for her own safety until she was rescued from the streets. Now eighteen, Olivia finds herself at a crossroads: revealed secrets threaten to destroy the “proper” life she has built for her herself, while newfound feelings for an arrogant young man she shouldn’t like could derail her carefully laid plans for the future.
✩ Olivia was very independent, especially for her time, and she was daring. I liked that she was protective of the orphans and that she was so compassionate.
✩ Jack was charming and passionate. He was protective of those around him and he was selfless.
❝ Her traitorous heart didn’t care a whit about propriety or material possessions; it longed for passion and adventure.❞
This was one of those books that is light enough to lose myself in and breeze through but that I still fall in love with. I loved the storyline of two orphans growing up on the streets and reuniting as adults (especially with both of them living double lives). I really enjoyed the characters as well and was a big fan of the romance too. It was just a great weekend read or perfect for when you want a break from more complex/intense books.
As you can probably guess, Olivia Twist is a retelling of Oliver Twist where “Oliver” is actually a girl disguising herself as a boy. Olivia grows up on the streets trusting and depending on her friend, the Artful Dodger, until one day they get into a sticky situation and they end up going their separate ways. Her path leads her to a more civilized and pleasant life than her friend, and ultimately she forgets about him but never the life she led on the streets. She becomes a protector to a group of orphans. Between her uncle’s declining health and the orphan’s growing struggle to survive, Olivia resigns herself to the only option she has: marrying someone she doesn’t love.
I think the moment I knew this book had taken me over was when Olivia follows Jack the first time and they have an interaction in the alleyway. Her quick-wit and boldness at that moment won me over because I knew this was an interesting character who was going to keep things interesting.
I think the chemistry between Olivia and Jack was obvious at that moment too and I was rooting for them despite all the odds against them. What I loved about their relationship was the constant joking and sassiness that accompanied their interactions, but it was Jack’s attitude towards Olivia that really made me love the book. He protected Olivia and was bold, but never pushed her too far. He let her make her own decisions and respected them. I loved that he didn’t pressure her or expect anything from her. He let her be herself and didn’t judge her for it like other people.
❝ A wig and dirt-smeared cheeks couldn’t hide her innate grace and beauty. He’d never wanted to kiss and strangle someone in the same breath, but that incongruous and decidedly uncomfortable state had become the norm when he was with her. ❞
One thing that I really hoped I’d see but that didn’t happen was more thefts/cons. I was really hoping that we’d get to see some more intense/complicated plans to steal things (I think Six of Crows spoiled me), but that really felt like it was more in the background of the story whenever it happened. I think it worked out in the end because the whole problem with Monk and the mystery of what happened to Olivia’s parents was a big focus of the story. I don’t think there could have been a good balance between cons, romance, and mystery if Langdon had chosen to go that route. I think the story worked better this way and had more of that historical feeling that made the story so appealing to me.
And finally, I want to talk about the ending. It definitely felt a little rushed. So much happened in the final chapters that I just kept wondering how they were going fix everything before the end of the book. I think I would’ve liked the ending to be stretched out a bit more so that the resolution to Monk’s big, evil plan would feel like more of a triumph. I would’ve liked Olivia’s snooping and investigation to have been expanded on so that we could feel that tension about whether or not she would succeed in time. Aside from that, I actually enjoyed the ending. I liked the way that things resolved themselves and how things ended up between Olivia and Jack, even if things didn’t go as smoothly with the rest of her family.
Overall, I think this was a fantastic read and I look forward to seeing what else Langdon writes in the future!