This book is set in Sunderland, England in 1831 at the time of a cholera epidemic. Gustine is a young mother who works in a pottery factory by day and rents a gown to prostitize herself at night. Henry Chiver is a doctor who craves to learn more about anatomy. Gustine works at finding bodies for Henry to autopsy.
Gustine's baby was born with a medical condition. If she helps Henry will this help her baby? Both Gustiine and Henry are lost souls. They seem to cross the boundaries set by this period in time.
The descriptions of a factory town of this era are so vivid one feels the filth. I agree that there is a Dickensian feel to the book. This makes it a read you have to focus on.
The narrator of the story changes and this at times confused me.