Even if you’ve never read Oliver Twist or seen the musical, you won’t be able to help yourself from becoming addicted to Lorie Langdon’s Olivia Twist.
About ‘Olivia Twist’ by Lorie Langdon
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 Twist’ book review
I have a confession to make: I’m largely unfamiliar with Oliver Twist. I’ve never seen the musical and I’ve never read Charles Dickens’ original story. I haven’t even read the Cliffs Notes or Wikipedia entry for the story before. My sole knowledge of the characters and the plot come from Oliver and Company. It’s a story I’ve been meaning to read, but just haven’t gotten around to yet.
Frankly, going in to this novel, I was worried that I’d be confused a lot and that I’d miss significant (or even fun) references. However, I’m pleased to say that this was not at all the case! (At least that I know of!) I never once felt like something went over my head or that this book wasn’t for me because I had no Oliver Twist background. Lorie Langdon not only gives context for everyone the reader should know, but takes them all in really interesting and heartfelt directions.
Because I’ve never been exposed to Oliver Twist, I had very few expectations of the characters. Really, the only expectation I had was for Dodger (aka Jack) to have the same sweet dance moves as his canine equivalent in Oliver and Company.
I can tell you that Jack exceeded my expectations by far. He’s the perfect combination of suave, confident, tough, and vulnerable. He’s everything you’d ever want from a male love interest. I couldn’t help but swoon almost every time he made an appearance. And, considering he narrates half of the book, that’s saying a lot.
But as much as I love Jack, I think I love Olivia even more. She’s incredibly intelligent and resourceful, taking matters into her own hands on numerous occasions. Using the skills she learned both from being “Oliver Twist” and a member of high society, she uses her book smarts as well as her street smarts to help those around her.
She also always stays true to herself. Though she’s a debutante, she never loses her cunning or survival instincts. Not only that, but she also remembers what it’s like to be less fortunate and understands that something as simple as an apple can be the difference between life and death. Olivia is good at blending in to high society when she needs to, but she doesn’t compromise what she knows to be right.
Though they’re strong and fascinating as individuals, Olivia and Jack are at their best when they’re together. They truly bring out the best in one another. Olivia brings out Jack’s vulnerability, showing him how to open up and appreciate his value as a person and not just as a thief. Jack, on the other hand, brings out the fiery side of Olivia that she tucked away long ago. She isn’t a pushover before adult Jack comes along, by any means. But he reignites a spark in her that affects them both.
And their romance… Oh their romance. I swooned quite a few times, let me tell you. The best romances are the ones that you can feel while you’re reading and I can tell you that you’ll feel everything single moment of this one. Each of their interactions feels so natural and real. There’s no insta-love here (partially because they’d already spent a good time getting to know each other in the past). My only complaint about their romance is that I wanted it to go a little further. Be slightly less chaste. But I guess that’s what headcanon and, perhaps, fanfiction is for.
The other character in this novel you’re sure to fall in love with is London itself. Langdon paints such a vivid image of its poverty-stricken neighborhoods, fancy upper class to-dos, and fog-laden streets that London becomes a character onto itself. Her lush language and detailed descriptions make everything so visceral. I’m not one for reading descriptions in books (my eyes automatically move to skip over them), but I made sure to read every single one here. Though it’s far from being shiny and perfect, Langdon makes Jack and Olivia’s London feels like home.
As for the plot itself, I thought it was enjoyable enough. I wouldn’t say it’s edge-of-your-seat gripping, but I was pleasantly surprised by a couple turns of events. The story isn’t all that intricate or layered, but it really doesn’t need to be. The main draws and strengths of Olivia Twist are its characters and their relationships with one another. While in many novels the characters serve the plot, the plot serves the characters in Olivia Twist.
According to Lorie Langdon’s author note at the back of the book, Olivia Twist was *years* in the making and it was definitely worth it. It has the perfect blend of romance, action, and mystery. Oh, and beautiful high society dresses. Can’t forget those!
Although it has a satisfying ending, the world and characters Lorie Langdon has created in Olivia Twist will leave you saying “Please, sir, I want some more.” Olivia Twist is a fun new YA novel you won’t want to miss.
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