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 herself, while newfound feelings for an arrogant young man she shouldn’t like could derail her carefully laid plans for the future. 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.
What worked: I really enjoyed this twist on a Dickens's story. Olivia is spunky, courageous, and even though her uncle has 'saved' her from the slums of her childhood and tried to make her a lady, she still helps street children. She's not like the damsel in distress. Rather she's the one helping and fighting for those who are cast off. I liked Olivia's determination to continue to help those in need.
Jack is one of those charismatic characters that could very well be a stereotype of the 'bad-boy' of that time. Instead he's fleshed out to show not only his weaknesses but his strengths. I could very well see why Olivia would fall for him.
The time period of the mid 1800s is shown in vivid details. Readers see not only London's high society, but the slums where children live on the streets.
Engaging retelling of Oliver Twist with a heroine and a love story worth cheering for.