Lord Geoffroy Loveall is the richest man in England, reclusive, and heretofore heirless lord of the sprawling manse of Love Hall. He arrives home one fateful morning with a most unusual package - a baby that he presents as the inheritor to the family name and fortune. In honour of his beloved sister, who died at the age of five, Loveall names the baby Rose Old.
The household, relieved at the continuation of the Loveall line, assiduously ignores the fact that this Rose has a thorn - that she is, in fact, a boy. Rose grows up inside the endlessly fascinating maze of halls and lawns that make up Love
Hall, along with the two inquisitive and ebullient servant children who are her only friends; all three are educated by Rose's adoptive mother Anonyma in the musty recesses of the Octagonal Library. Rose grows up blissfully unaware of her own gender, casually hitting boundaries at Love Hall's yearly cricket game and learning to shave her face even as she continues to wear more and more elaborate dresses, as befits a growing young lady. Until, of course, the fateful day when Rose's world comes crashing down around her, and she is banished from Love Hall as an impostor by those who would claim her place as heir.
Filled with unexpected plot twists, outrageous characters, odd details and a vivid, velvety historical background, this is an epic, Dickensian story. Fanciful, whimsical and wry, it is also a moving meditation on the agony of adolescence and the universal difficulty of determining one's identity. Set in the early years of the nineteenth century, and an England at once as believable as Sarah Waters' and as grotesque as Mervyn Peake's, 'Misfortune' is a gothic novel for our times - a huge, rich, funny, exciting work of fiction that is destined to become a classic.