Hiram’s Hospital was a small alms house that functioned without much public notice under the guidance of the warden, Mr. Harding. When the young reformer, John Bold, notices the disparity between the lifestyles of those in the care of the hospital and the warden, he appeals to England’s presses to correct the issue, despite being a friend of Mr. Harding’s and a suitor to his daughter. When the case comes under the notice of some popular journals and authors (including a Mr. Popular Sentiment – a hilarious caricature of Charles Dickens), Harding falls under very public attack.
The story is well-written and interesting. Though the beginning is rather heavy with facts and figures (the first ten or so pages devoted to the total earnings and holdings and allocations of the hospital), the story quickly picks up and, for me at least, was functionally glued to my hands. The drama was well handled and the characters, particularly Harding and Bold, had enough depth for me to feel sorry for both. One of my favourite aspects of the book is that it took both sides of the issue and dealt with both sympathetically enough that I would have been saddened by any possible outcome.
The moments of humour were also well handled, particularly those passages that poked fun of Dickens.
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